“Mommy, you’re sending me to summer camp so we don’t have to go on vacation!” Declan wanted “vacation.” That means a hotel with a pool. He feels sold out.
“No, I’m sending you to summer camp because it’s fifty-five dollars for the summer. You need to play with kids instead of Minecraft. He’s been swimming at camp all summer.
Who needs “vacation?” My stone house in the forest is a resort of sorts, complete with a gourmet vegetarian chef who cooks local, in-season food from the garden, free wireless, 24-hour coffee, and nature trails with wildlife all around. There’s even a washer and dryer for guest access.
But since we needed a “vacation” I booked a weeknight in a hotel in Lincoln, New Hampshire, where my parents brought us most years. We’d go to summer stock theatre, play mini golf, and hike. I remember these being fun times. My mom would say they were stress–she put in the work while everyone threw fits and whined. I’m beginning to understand now.
Every year, Dad said, “I’m going to climb Mount Washington.” One year Mom replied, “You’ve been saying that every year. Get off your ass and do it, or find a new goal.”
It’s funny how goals stick in the “gonna” region of our mind. At some point it’s time to get moving or admit we’ve changed tracks. Mom told Dad to “shit or get off the pot.” He didn’t shit, though, he climbed, and as a result we all got to the top of Mt. Washington, which is a story for another day.
I wanted to relax this vacation, so I didn’t overprepare. I threw some snacks and clothes into the car. Ready for adventure! After a nice long drive with only two outbursts–one from the child and one from the dad, we made it safely to our destination. We checked into the hotel where Declan once found a frog, “Kermit.”
“I want to go find Kermit then go to the pool.” This was Declan’s entire objective for vacation. I didn’t question this. As a mom, my job is to create memories. His job is to process them. The simplest things are usually the things we remember most.
Kermit wasn’t there. Declan was smiling, though. “He must be at our house now. I knew the frog I saw looked familiar!” Mission one, Operation Frog, complete. Mission two: Hotel Pool. That wouldn’t be so easy.
If you’ve never been to a hotel pool, you are from a country most Americans can’t spell. Count your blessings. There are signs saying “No Jumping. No Running. No Life Guard.” inches from a hundred unsupervised kids splashing, jumping, and screaming. Unsupervised kids in water stress me–most kids who drown do so feet from the adults supervising them. Water safety is never a joke. It was vacation, though–time to relax.
Rusty took Declan into the pool. He was a lifeguard in a prior life and I only have one save to my name so he’s in charge of teaching Declan to swim. I headed for the hot tub.
Hotel hot tubs are for adults. Period. They’re where adults relax and contemplate the meaning of life. No one screams and pees in hot tubs. At a roasty two hundred and twelve degrees, they’re a veritable witch’s caldron of melt-your-problems-away.
This one had a lot of children. The one mom and two teens were perfectly okay. Moms deserve hot tubs, and teens need to learn adult things like trying to relax after they realize adult life sucks. That’s good training. But little kids should never be allowed to take adult spaces anywhere. I told the little kids they’d boil like chicken soup and eventually they went into the “no jumping” pool to jump because there was no lifeguard or parent to stop them.
My mind shifted to the hot tub at Kripalu, the yoga retreat house in the Berkshires where I go to reach enlightement. You should go there, too. “Yoga” and “retreat” are a serious enough words that everyone’ll let you go if you say it’s an emergency. You can’t say, “I’m just going to eat the food, get a massage, and sit in the hot tub.” You’ll be seen as an irresponsible mom. If you say, “I’m going to practice yoga,” no one can argue. If you say “retreat,” it implies you might explode if they don’t let you go. Try it. It works.
I do get close to enlightenment in the retreat hot tub, but the hotel one made me feel like a teacher or mom who wanted to organize and discipline kids, the very feeling I was trying to escape. Still, I boiled until I felt the two jets stop massaging my back and begin to pound my kidneys. I got out to see if Declan had learned to swim.
“I can swim.” If rocks can swim, he’s amazing. He splashed as much as he could without getting his face wet. He wasn’t making any progress towards the Olympics.
He was a prune. I was boiled into chicken soup. Rusty got into the hot tub for a few minutes and we all headed back up to jump on hotel beds.
It’s what you do on vacation. Jump on beds, find a pool two hundred miles from home, and look for the same frogs that are in your own back yard.
It’s the little things in life, that count.
That’s what vacation is all about.