My three charming, delightful, whimsical children began their spring break with an unrelenting barrage of ridiculous arguments, incessant infighting and absurd complaints. The timing was perfect because we happened to spend last week at my parents so their behavior really made my mothering skills shine. I’m not sure what the root cause of all of this discontent was exactly because it began almost immediately after my mother and father individually gifted each child with presents, a seemingly celebratory event. But, then they argued over the presents. Which made them seem especially grateful and gracious and well-parented and all. It’s always extra cringey when your kids come off as unappreciative of gifts. Like, you are just absolutely failing at entry-level child-rearing.
There was a lot of bad behavior those first couple of days but the most egregious was when one of the three actually threw a temper tantrum because Bob was going to take them all to a playground. Again, A PLAYGROUND. TEARS WERE SHED over this plan. And, the playground was to be followed by a trip to Chick-fil-A which was all preceded by the presents. So, it was basically a children’s trifecta of fun. Which they ruined. Because… I don’t even know why. Kids make absolutely no sense.
They all got with the program after a significant number of threats issued through gritted teeth. (Bob is especially effective at this.) But, still, when I asked Henry to show me how much fun he was having as we WALKED ACROSS THE OHIO RIVER on a pedestrian bridge, this was all he could muster:
Please to note the slouched shoulders of parental intolerance. Also, he is wearing his rec specs because his glasses snapped in half on day one – DAY ONE – of our trip. I’m wondering why we ever drove away from our house.
Despite their questionable behavior, we all rallied to travel to southeastern Kentucky towards the end of the week for a stay at Pine Mountain State Park. I’m kind of surprised my parents even wanted to follow through on this plan seeing as the first part of the week had been so enjoyable.
Anyway, the park sits close to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and the intersection of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. The views were amazing and Bob got my parents and myself to agree to take the three kids hiking on a somewhat longer trail by lying and telling us that the trail was “mostly flat.” It was not indeed, “mostly flat.” Actually, it was “none flat.” We had to take turns holding on to Millie’s hood lest she fall into the somewhat raging creek many feet below.
Millie was… not amused (I’M SENSING A THEME HERE):
Yes, Charlie is holding a slingshot. Yes, it was purchased by Bob. Yes, that went over about as well as you are imagining. Charlie walked around the park telling everyone he was going to kill a mama bear with it and take her baby bear cub home to live with us. Not everyone knew how to react to that proposition.
Illicit slingshot purchase aside, it was all a lot of fun and when I asked Henry and Charlie to show me how much fun they were having, I got this:
On the way home, somewhere around hour number seven of driving on I-81 through Virginia, I was wondering if our constant striving to give our children new adventures, new sights, new sounds is at all worth it. I definitely THINK it is but this trip was work. All of the trips we will take this year will be work. At this stage, there is not a lot of vacation to our vacations.
But then, I caught this:
I filtered this through Instagram and wrote, “Worth all the effort it took to get here.” What I meant at the time was, that seeing my daughter and my dad together made the work of planning and executing the trip worth it. But, the longer I stare at that picture and at the two of them, the more the caption really means. Because it is all worth the effort. All of it. Of course it is. From beginning to end. Life and living and vacations and road trips and homework and crumbs on the floor and inside out socks and terrible behavior and hugs and kisses and sore UNO losers. It will always be worth the effort.
Sure, our spring break was a little messy this year and yes, I could sleep for the next four days straight but the whole escapade was memorable. I’ll never stop taking these kids places.
Also, on a side note, I know I’m supposed to want my kids to look out the window on long car drives, studying the landscape, seeing new things, experiencing a greater world than their everyday but honestly, this is so much easier:
Three kids, three sets of earbuds, three electronic devices with magic screens. The four hours spent driving through the great state of West Virginia barely even registered, what with all of the quiet. Sure, they missed majestic mountain peaks, stunning valley views and a dizzying array of abandoned shanty towns visible from the interstate but we’ll show them pictures in a book or something.