Have you ever planned a big night out, special gathering, your summer or family vacation and in your head it’s pretty close to perfect? Me, too.
I was talking to one of my close friends this week who goes on a family trip every summer. It always looks magical. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all make the trek to the beach and stay in the same house. There have been friends, girlfriends, boyfriends and extended family that have joined them over the years. They made it seem effortless until last summer when a boyfriend joined them. He wasn’t particularly loved by the family and did nothing to endear himself to the group throughout their stay. Needless to say, he failed this rite of passage and while there is way more to the story he soon became an ex-boyfriend. This snafu in their seamless yearly beach extravaganza seemed like an anomaly to those of us on the outside looking in.
Taking vacations with family is hard. When your kids are young, it’s difficult to wrangle the group into doing anything let alone minding you. As they get older you would expect them to be more mature. Not so, grasshopper. As you know, we recently went on a vacation and all three of our girls and a boyfriend went with us. Truth be told, I thought if there were going to be issues it would be about the boyfriend. Let’s face it. Two weeks with a boyfriend is a long time. He’s under a microscope, we’re under a microscope. It just sounds relaxing doesn’t it? In reality he was great. He pitched in wherever, he made breakfast, he cleaned up after himself and after meals. He was a quiet bystander most of the time.
Our girls, on the other hand, quickly reverted back to their preteen selves within about 24 hours. They argued over clothes, the shower and who ate the last chocolate-covered macadamia nut. At one point, the boyfriend looked at me and said, “I am starting to get a glimpse of what getting ready for school in the mornings must have looked like.”
At what age do they stop arguing over ridiculous things and keep every thought that goes through their heads to themselves? Lord help me, it’s taking way longer than I ever imagined. Now don’t get me wrong, my girls were mostly delightful on this trip and they were very appreciative to be in paradise. These episodes mainly occurred when they were all in the same bedroom maneuvering around the piles of bathing suits, shorts, and tank tops that were discarded on the floor. You know, the shorts that they cared so much about their sister wearing even though they were laying under a wet bathing suit! Obviously, those shorts are special. There is probably a study out there on sisterhood and how sharing a bedroom within a few years of moving away from one another can cause an adolescent response to emerge even from the most mature of siblings.
I am one of three sisters and can say with the utmost of certainty that this is what girls do. They fight over clothes, they argue with one another, and there is a grace period in which well after maturity these outbursts can occur. I can also say that I know firsthand that they will outgrow this behavior as my sisters and I did. I just want to know how much longer, does it have to happen on vacation and is it just our family?
So, I did what all inquiring minds do, I went to my person to confide about my crazy family. She laughed and assured me that her daughter and two sons act in a similar manner…at their age and even on vacation. Their idyllic beach vacations are wrought with emotional outbursts each and every year. She reminded me that just because we set aside a couple of weeks to relax doesn’t mean that life doesn’t keep happening. Sometimes that means our kids are going to get into arguments, sometimes we are going to have to deal with the outside world like work, emails, and phone calls. They even had to make a big work decision while on their trip this year. The point is the world keeps on spinning whether we are sitting by the ocean or in front of our computer screen.
My girls are all back to their respective cities, jobs, school and you know what? They miss each other. I miss them. It’s too quiet and I would give anything to hear them fighting in the next room over a pair of shorts.
So, what’s the life lesson? Appreciate your crazy family and remember life’s a beach sometimes.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G