One thing we noticed in Italy this past week is that kids are completely adored, showered with attention, kisses, cheek pinches (ask Cece, it was her favorite part) but very little is set up specifically for kids. Kids are expected to do everything like the adults.
I like this assumption and the girls were at the perfect age to meet those expectations. They had plenty of time to splash in the pool, hang out with cousins, and act like kids but they also carried their own bags, did all the tours, and talked with the family. It was a great vacation for kids just not a kid-centric vacation.
If you think elementary school body humor has peaked in your house just try introducing an Italian bidet to the equation. It opens up whole new avenues of humor.
After a whirlwind 36 hours in Rome, we have now made it to Sicily. This is the first long plane/travel trip since Ally was about 18 months old and we’ve found that the rules have changed slightly, or at least no longer involve diapers. Here are our six rules of engagement for this trip:
- Avoid boredom. They are mostly old enough to entertain themselves but having random shiny objects they’ve never seen before doesn’t hurt.
- Anticipation is half the fun. We got the kids involved in the planning. Ce is also keeping a travel journal. Also, start packing a week out by putting things in piles to avoid last minute stress.
- Avoid hunger. Snacks in a strange land work just as well as at home.
- Always be bribing. In Italy, gelato works really well for this.
- Energy is infectious. This is Michelle’s speciality. Her mantra is “It’s an adventure.” She is very going at spinning anything.
- There are mostly no rules. My mantra? I’m on vacation and I don’t care.
Of course, tantrums and meltdowns happen on vacation as well as in your own living room but it’s worth it for the great moments, right? Cecilia has now had a “memorable” moment in the Roman forum. Daddy has had one in the Hertz line in Palmero. It’s the cost of doing business and if the kids (and Dad) are ever to learn how to master these behaviors, it may as well be on the go.
One unlikely pitfall of working from home most days is the unexplainable urge to constantly vacuum. I can only chalk it up to how ineffective I find most work meetings or just how strong my need to procrastinate is that I’ll clean before sitting down at my desk.
This week, I was straightening up (in preparation for the addictive vacuuming) and came across a Sharpie cap in the living room. Just the cap. Is there a scarier thing to find as a parent? I immediately checked the walls, carpet, and fur around Dash’s mouth. No joy.
So far the other half of the marker remains missing…
We’ve reached the point in the year where every day at the breakfast table the girls delight in providing an update on the number of school days left. Of my favorite things about Cecilia’s teacher this year is that she lets the kids do so much on their own. Yes, the results are rarely perfect or picture-worthy but they own it. I’m hoping this keeps going next year and translates into a deeper belief in herself and her abilities.
Pushing, prodding, and electro-shocking the kids to get things done day-to-day can be challenging and that carrot/stick type of motivation is just not practical long term. It doesn’t do anything. It’s not useful. It’s the funfetti cake of motivation. It fades all too quickly.
Belief, on the other hand, is a tool that’s extremely useful. I’m not talking about hope. Hope is not a life strategy. I’m talking about practical and pragmatic belief. Believing if you put in the work and take action, you can make things happen.
If school can teach the kids that it might even be worth the pain of new math.
Allison had her first field trip this week. They went to the zoo. There were multiple email reminders about sunscreen. That meant multiple reminders to me that it’s okay not to love being a parent all the time. Some parts just suck. Like dealing with sunscreen at 7:30 in the morning. It’s the black licorice of summer.
I came downstairs the other night and found Michelle sitting on the couch surrounded by a calendar, her laptop and 22 open browser tabs. It was summer camp planning time! After looking at our planned vacations, the sometimes stressful experience last year, and the general cost now with two kids going to camp full-time, we actually ended up scaling back the number of camps.
A bit counterintuitive, but it was just too much. Too much money, too much scheduling, too much logistics. Life is tough enough without stressing about what the kids will be doing on a random August Tuesday in May while it’s dark and raining and forty degrees out. We don’t need more excuses to drink wine.
We’ve decided to stop trying to constantly schedule engaging experiences each and every day. Just being at home together living our lives is good and enough.
So we are trying a less is more summer. The kids will have a few camps (can’t stay no to every theatre and musical camp!) and a few weeks on the Cape but mostly they will be home wandering around in the cul-de-sac. They will likely get bored at some point. They will likely get into petty sibling fights. They will definitely drive me crazy, too, but that’s all part of summer vacation.
Along with the wine, of course.
Sometimes you just can’t take any more 4th grade humor or Kidz Bop bath time soundtracks. You just need to get away and have some adult conversation. Date night becomes a survival necessity and not a luxury.
We headed south to Providence last week for a fancy dinner at Gracie’s and a night away at The Graduate.