We've just returned from our much awaited, much anticipated family vacation. Let me first start out by saying, for the record, that I'm under no delusion that there is such thing as a "vacation," in the traditional sense, for parents who take their children on a trip. This was a vacation for the kids, I fully admit that. I have a dream that one day Topher and I will go back to New York for a proper vacation (which consists of sleeping for the first two days). But that's after babies have been weaned and the ban my children have from going to Grandma and Grandpa Valentine's house has been lifted (they're still on probation, time suspended for good behavior). I think Christopher, although a very good sport, still held on to a little bit of the dream, manifested in that novel he packed and the ipod he brought along. But it's good to have a dream.
Growing up, in Lincoln, Nebraska, our family "vacation" was coming to Utah. That 16 hour drive, interrupted by one luxurious night at the Cheyenne, Wyoming Holiday Inn, was the vacation we came to expect every year. Don't get me wrong, we loved coming to visit our cousins-complete with sleepovers and slurpees. And most importantly: no one had a trampoline in Nebraska. My brothers and sisters and I would hear about our friends' families going to Hawaii to surf or to Vail to ski, but that wasn't who we, the Valentine's, were. We ate carrot sticks and sandwiches in the wood-panel station wagon, and we took great pride in that. (As an adult, I"m not so sure why, but I still hang onto it.) We weren't deprived or anything, I mean, we went to Disneyworld once, when I was 12, but my mom made all seven of us matching shirts (in different colors--I was teal), so we learned there was a price for everything.
So growing up with my no-frills summer vacations, who do I think I am going to the front of the line at every ride at Disneyland? I loved it, don't get me wrong-- it was the only way to do Disneyland with small, small children, but I felt extremely guilty about it, darting my eyes down everytime we rushed ahead, following Golda, our VIP guide, to the front of the line while she explained boldly to the ride operator that she had an important guest with her and could we, please (she was extremely polite--I'm sure there's special training for that and Disneyland, but it creeps me out to think about it for very long), go on the ride this very minute? I was stung when audible whispers floated above us, because I imagined they were wondering which one of my children had cancer. But no, we went with my brother, the rock star, who said that fame is fleeting and we might as well use it while we can, because he won't always have it, and that made sense to me, so although I felt guilty about it, I fully took advantage of my brother's fame. I'm such a Gemini.
The universe is balanced, and we did blow a tire in Cedar City, and this somehow made me feel better about getting free stuff. We did have to buy a tire, afterall. We suffered. But then again, while we were lifted up on the bed of a tow-truck, kids still buckled in, Miles, our oldest, yelled, "This is the best vacation ever! We're taller than everyone!" and that was before the beach and Disneyland. I guess we could have packed the minivan with carrot sticks and driven three miles and called it good.