One measuring stick for today’s parent for the success or failure of almost any venture is the amount of times the kids ask for, think about, glance at, or try to sneak in tablet time.
Amount of times this happened in the last week on PEI? Zero. That feels like money well spent right there.
Prince Edward Island exceeded our expectations in just about every way. And given Michelle’s almost religious fanaticism in the last year about the place I think that’s saying something.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what it was about PEI that made such an impression. They make odd bedfellows, but it reminded us how we’ve felt visiting Hawaii. The confluence of beautiful scenery, swaths of undeveloped landscape, and unhurried pace make it almost impossible not to step out of the flow, unplug and truly relax.
The weather cooperated magnificently. The girls got along. The hand pies were outstanding. The beaches sang. The sea glass sparkled. Green Gables did not disappoint. Many pounds of mussels were consumed. It was a great week.
It all came to end on Saturday and, fittingly, with it came the rain, a drenching downpour that chased us off the island, but first we had to pack. And get more hand pies for the road…
We crossed the border yesterday and the girls learned an important new term: international data plan. You need to pony up some extra money to keep Spotify, Netflix and tablets running in Canada.
We made it to Prince Edward Island yesterday and Michelle is living her dream. Even without the help of some fortifying wine, I’m pretty sure she believes she has walked onto the set of Anne of Green Gables.
You don’t have to squint very hard to be transported back a hundred years. Outside of a few areas, the lack of development is both startling and refreshing. It’s large blocks of pines, tracts of farms and open views to the water.
Not a bad place to spend a week of vacation. Unplugged, unhurried and uninterested in anything resembling normal responsibilities.
That’s how the rest of the week will go (along with bottomless cocktails, long meals and practicing some free-range parenting), but first we had to get to the island….
We made it. Despite synced calendars, a multi-tab spreadsheet and electronic funds transfer, we somehow managed to double book camp last week. That left this week looming with an entire five days to both work and act as cruise director for the kid’s summer enjoyment.
What happened? Nothing. And it was perfect. With a little benign neglect, some help from the grandparents, and a pack of Sculpey clay, the girls made it through the week with only a few moments of whinging boredom.
Cries of boredom were ignored. Unless there was blood. Then I threw a box of Band-Aids down the basement.
Conference calls were taken. Work was done. Less than a case of wine was drunk. I’m calling that a successful week as a summer cruise director.
I’m closing in on the home stretch of my second year in this decade and a few things are becoming more clear for me about my fourth decade on this planet.
Is 40 the magic number for insight and wisdom? I have no idea. Probably not. More likely that I spent most of my thirties just trying to stay a step or two ahead of the kids and not wear the worst of my spit-up stained shirts out in public.
Now that they are a little older and I have some time between microwaving the next batch of chicken nuggets and re-filling the friggen’ water bottles, a few things have occurred to the older me.
Three things happened this past week. None of them were really special. Just small, everyday moments that illustrated that Ally is growing up.
The past few months have been, and will be, filled with Ally milestones: the end of day care and the looming start of kindergarten. I’m sure I will remember these, at least in general. I certainly remember Cece’s first day of kindergarten!
But memory is a funny thing. You never quite know what will linger like an irascible kernel of popcorn in a molar. In twenty years, will I remember Ally reaching up over the counter and getting a cereal bowl without help? Or maybe yesterday when she stood in the adult pool on her tiptoes with her head out of the water? Or last night while watching Anne of Green Gables (again) when she told her Mom that Gilbert Blythe is handsome…and dumb.
The girls spent last week at the Cape attending Camp Grammie (& Poppy). According to them, they spent their days swimming, looking for sand dollars, staying up late, painting, eating ice cream at every meal, and making memories. Pretty much what girls their age should be doing in the summer. Grammie assured me there was some broccoli and even a little reading during the week, but no dreaded math facts.
With the girls away, it allowed Michelle and I to…. work more and watch Netflix on the couch a few hours earlier. I think the quiet almost shocked us into a state of indolence. Turns out, there is a rhythm to the house that you come to rely on to keep you on track when everyone is operating near the edge of exhaustion.
We have yet to feel the impact of “No More Checks!” I have not placed that outdoor pizza oven order yet. Nor has Michelle selected the perfect piece of haute couture from Givenchy. Right now, we have only just adjusted the electronic routing numbers to funnel those potential retirement payments to various summer camps scattered about the greater Metrowest area.
For Cecilia, camp is old hat, but it’s been fun to watch Ally finally get to go off and be with the “big” kids. For the past year, I believe she’s been convinced that Cecilia visits a magic wonderland where they sip from chocolate fountains, eat snacks all day, run through rainbow-infused sprinklers, and do arts and crafts until their fingers cramp. Well, now she knows. Cecilia was only lying about the chocolate fountains.
After the first week, Ally’s happiest place on earth is camp, not Disneyland (too many terrifyingly large costumed characters). Just think, she hasn’t even gone to drama camp yet!