On the Road (Again)

Quite unlike the freedom-seeking spirit of Willie Nelson’s song, being “on the road” with children of any age is like being in a moving prison cell.  You have no personal space, the people around you appear threatening, and the food is terrible.  The only difference—that you can get out of the car at some point—is really just an illusory difference because when you get out of jail you are free, and when you get out of the car on a family vacation, your family IS STILL WITH YOU.

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And Away We Go!

I am sorry excited to report that next week is Spring Break here in our part of Illinois, and unfortunately happily for us that means Family Vacation!  This year’s debate on where to go was particularly fraught with disagreement lively, partly because support for a real “family vacation” was what my siblings and I received from my parents for Christmas this year. 

In a letter recognizing how busy each of our families are, my parents gave each of us a gift that would contribute to a vacation just for our own immediate families, which was incredibly thoughtful.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my father is a lawyer, so there was one stipulation—we needed to provide some photographic evidence of having actually gone somewhere (though if we chose to go away without our kids, he preferred that the photographs be taken during daylight hours only).

not me on Spring Break

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Arguing: Fun for the Whole Family!

When our friends Markus and Almut had their third child, we asked Markus how it was to go from being a family of four to a family a five.  He’s a Classics Scholar—insightful, deliberate, a little quirky with a pleasing neurotic edge.  “Well, it’s less…monolithic,” he said, making the shape of a column with his hands.  “Four is just so tight.  With five, there’s more movement.  It’s more dynamic.”  Then a bewildered look crossed his face.  “Sometimes,” he said slowly, “I try to keep them all in my head at the same time and I can’t.”

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Board Games vs. What If Questions: Another Parenting Dilemma

Last week for some New Jersey public schools it was Winter Break.  On Monday, one of my friends in Pennsylvania posted on Facebook that her “togetherness quotient” had expired; on Tuesday, my sister, who was at home in New Jersey with her three small children, texted me to ask who was responsible for the concept of “winter break.”  (People with no children and timeshares in Arizona, apparently).  On Wednesday, we discussed the equally absurd notion of taking small children “on vacation,” and on Thursday she reported that one of her sons had asked her a question that started with “What if…” and she had interrupted him before he could go any farther.  “I just couldn’t take it,” she said.  “I even said to him, ‘please stop, I can’t handle that kind of question right now.’  And yes, I’m a terrible person.”

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