by Ajike Akande
The Silverman-Akande family has fled the nest and has set up shop in Wife’s hometown of Ottawa. It’s kind of a big deal that we are here; last summer was our first visit to Ottawa since I was pregnant with The Middles. We were waiting for life to calm down before we ventured that far from the homestead. As it turns out, things aren’t going to calm down for-flippin’-ever, so we decided to take our beautiful mess on the road. Anyway, I’m a life-long learner, so here are some things that I have learned on our family vacay so far.
1. Actually I learned this first one just before our family vacation. Packing up the seven of us is getting easier. I hesitate to admit this as I always want to reserve the right to lose my s*$t the day before any family trip and blame Wife for everything but in particular making us take this upcoming trip with the family. I am not sure this has anything to do with our current situation; I had pre-trip meltdowns BK (before kids) too.
2. Wherever you go, there you are. Our inability to manage our children’s behaviour, our frustration, our stress – they all travel well. Home is wherever your real messy, wonderful self is. We are always at home when we are all together.
3. The realization of the former is both depressing and comforting. We know what to expect. We know not to expect rainbows and sunshine, but something more like cloudy with a chance of sun, which may last for quite a while, followed by sudden thunderstorms. This kind of temperamental weather is fine if you have the right gear at hand. See below.
4. Free feeding, as in “here is your food for the day, feed yourself as needed”, is very best way to do a road trip. Meals and snacks are actually the enemy and quite possibly the biggest barrier to parenting bliss. Simply pack a day’s worth of snacks in each child’s backpack, strap ‘em in and drive. You are welcome for that helpful nugget!
If your pre-trip snacks don't look like this, you may be doing things wrong. Just sayin'
5. Wife will insist that we play car games while the children watch DVDs during the five-hour drive. I will groan about having to play a game instead of doze off. I will not handle losing the car game well. I will immaturely whine, “You see, this is why I hate these games!” Wife will play by herself for the remainder of the trip.
6. Spending time with family that we see only once a year, gives us a chance to see our wild small humans though the eyes of others who are instantly taken by them and amazed by how much they’ve grown, learned and changed in a year (I’m talking about you guys, Uncle Mark, Aunt Sue and Cousin Greg).
7. I still totally hate getting wet. Swimming? Twice a day? Yuck! When The Big Z said he doesn’t like participating in activities (with the family) that he doesn’t enjoy, he get a mouthful from this water-hating mommy who has been in the water twice a day because, dammit, I like to see my family happy!
8. Any TV or videos watched while driving to visit Bubbie and Zaidie’s in Ottawa as well as any TV or videos watched while staying at Bubbie and Zaidie’s totally don’t count towards the daily, weekly, monthly or yearly amount of appropriate screen time.
9. When Wife and I don’t need to prepare any meals or go on field trips alone, our life is WAY more possible. Staying at my in-laws is like being at an all-inclusive resort. It must be noted that while they enjoy hosting and providing us with a family vacay, it takes them (and the residents of their quiet condo community) an entire year to recover from the Silverman-Akande visit.
10. We will make use of the massive box of “just in case” medicine & other random cure-all ointments that we hauled from Toronto. When I went out at 10 pm the night before we left for our trip to buy the contents of the “Just In Case” Box, Wife was all like, “We’re going to Ottawa, it’s not like we can’t just get whatever we need.” And I was all like, “Pipe down woman, nobody wants to do a 6 am run to the drugstore. Go pack the damn van!”
11. Wife and I did the most awesome, exhausting thing by giving our five wild children each other. When we are not worried that they are all working together to break our delicate spirits, their connection is basically the most amazing (and loud) thing I’ve ever seen.
I’m bound to learn a few more things over the next few days of this family vacay. Let’s hope it’s not that there is no way we’ll have a successful second family vacation week scheduled for two weeks from now. If we survive this week, do we really want to push our luck and try another week of togetherness?
Hope you're all enjoying summer, whatever you’re getting up to.
P.S. Um... This. You're welcome.