We just got back from a family vacation to the White Mountains. Having fun with my family has meant letting go of what fun used to mean to me.
Yes Captain and I can still drink a beer. We can do it in a beautiful location while managing a toddler or after she’s asleep in a dark corner of our hotel room. Or we can do both.
A couple months ago I asked Captain what he’d like for his birthday. He tells me,
“A relaxing dinner with cheeseburgers.”
“Sounds great! So after Baby Bop goes to sleep?”
“It would be nice to eat all together.”
Dinner with Baby Bop can be nice, but I’d never say it’s relaxing. Same goes for vacation. Captain’s request makes me wonder if we’re experiencing the same reality. I ask him,
“Do you think it’s possible to have a relaxing dinner with Baby Bop?”
“Maybe not. There’s never much time for digestion.”
Baby Bop does not appreciate lingering at the table long after the food has disappeared. Baby Bop doesn’t do lingering, at the dinner table or on vacation.
We buy tickets for a scenic train ride described as great for families with small children. There is strength in numbers. Not only will other parents be empathetic to my screaming child, there’s a good chance their kids will cause an equivalent amount of trouble.
As we wait for the train I notice several toddlers lingering near their parents on the nice grassy area. Baby Bop is on a mission to run in the parking lot regardless of the fact that she keeps falling on the pavement.
We get on the train and she’s determined to not sit with us. If I weren’t worried about her getting hurt, I’d be very happy for her to hang out with whatever family she likes better.
The train starts moving and that combined with snacks chills her out. The hour train ride is a surprising success.
Before the trip, we had decided that the three-hour, roundtrip train up Mt. Washington was unfeasible, but the successful one hour train ride made Captain reconsider. I look up a photo of the Mt. Washington train: one car. No where to go. If Baby Bop doesn’t make it, she’d take the whole train down with her. And tickets are $70 a piece.
I tell Captain,
“Ok, talk me through how you think this is going to work.”
“Maybe it isn’t.”
We don’t need to pay $140 to torture ourselves and a bunch of other people. We opt for a slow hike around a lake with a view of some mountains related to Mt. Washington.
We head out for dinner. On this trip we ate more meals out than we have in the entire time since Baby Bop was born. She was a super star as long as we kept providing something new every few minutes. Turns out she’s a big fan of eating butter packets and crayons.
Captain was so excited about her coloring for the first time that the placemat traveled home with us and is on the fridge. And I was impressed with Captain’s ability to draw, sideways, a really good pumpkin. AP art was worthwhile.
Vacation was fun and a little less work than if we’d been home. One toddler and two adults is a reasonable ratio. There was even a little bit of relaxing when Baby Bop was asleep.