Monday, August 8, 2011
What Are YOUR Vacations Like?
Okay, so I just returned a few days ago for a week long vacation. It was pleasant, and I did enjoy myself, but I wonder if this is so, sometimes, because I've LOWERED MY EXPECTATIONS.
What I mean by this is that a vacation before kids meant that The Man and I either went away to some place tropical or interesting, because we both had cashola and no great financial responsibilities. While on these trips we'd take some amazing day excursions, and spend some relaxing time lounging by the beach enjoying an endless, piggish slew of tropical, coconut based drinkies. There'd also be time by the pool to read a completely filthy novel. Then we'd probably have a fun snack followed by a nap or something scorchingly SEXAY (a distant dream, people. A distant freaking dream, ha ha ha ha ha). Then we'd get all cleaned up, wear something attractive and NEW and head off for dinner and the day would end with a hand-holding viewing of a fabulous sunset.
Eff. Now I'm depressed.
Focus, karen, focus.
Anyhoo, that was my idea of a perfect vacation then. I'd come home with a fabulous bracelet and a cute little beach wrap and a few other choice souvenirs, a nice tan and a brain filled with wonderful new images.
But, with kids, there is very little lounging. Nor are there as many fun day trips. Kids want fun, fun, fun and near-constant activity. This means lots and lots of swimming, and a stupid trip to a rip-off arcade when not swimming, or a visit to the park, or the dreaded public pool. Basically each day I had three swimming excursions. I like swimming, but I probably wouldn't swim that much if the kids weren't there.
Also, I have a child on the Autism Spectrum. I've talked about Jack before. He is what is considered "high functioning." This means that you would not know he has any "issues" at all until you saw him copying the other children around him; mimicing what they say and do. Sometimes this is to be a total bugger, other times it's because he's interested in how kids say or do things.
Or, you'd notice that he freaks out if it's suggested that we go out somewhere for a casual excursion. And when I say "freak out," I mean this can often be a total screaming, rage filled panic session. Also, as long as we were swimming, he was in a great mood. He's a nut for swimming and could probably stay there all day until I was pleading and sobbing to NOT be swimming any longer. Whenever we weren't swimming though, he was immediately bored. He's never really known how to play with toys, and hasn't had much interest in toys besides.
Keeping Jack fed was a challenge. I've ranted many times about how difficult he is to feed (you can read about that HERE). We went through 5 bags of cinnamon bread in 1 week (only Jack eats it), and we really had to stretch that last bag of cinnamon bread to make it through the last day and a half. He was starving all the time from all the extra activity, and a couple of pieces of toast for lunch with no butter just aren't going to cut it.
In these "down times" the kids were bored, super fighty and Jack was very verbally abusive. I joked with my Dad that like regular life, there was still plenty of verbal abuse, but on vacation there was verbal abuse and swimming, so it was easier to take. Kind of.
Plus, no matter how exciting a vacation is, a vacation is still going to be an upset to routine for a kid like Jack. So, it's stressful: there was no computer to get inspiration from youtube. The window air conditioner in his room sometimes made a frightening low buzzing sound when it it powered down a bit. There were flies in the trailer occasionally, despite our best efforts to keep doors open ONLY as long as it took to dart in or out. Jack is terrified of FLYING insects. He lamented several times to me that week that he missed the computer.
Okay, so this is all fine and good, and I think changes in his routine from time to time are important because life is unpredictable and hopefully over time he will learn to cope with these hiccups. However, instead of being able to say; "Mom, I feel very uneasy with things being different. I'm out of my comfort zone, and sometimes I can't cope," he says; "I HATE YOU," and "MY PARENTS ARE IDIOTS" and "I DON'T LIKE MY MOM TODAY." The only thing I can do is grit my teeth and CONSTANTLY remind him that these verbal responses are inappropriate. You know, till I'm blue in the face. Till I feel like putting my head through a wall.
That's why cocktail hour was invented ;)
Plus, there's that compulsive bugging issue. Jack is essentially a pest genius, and when he's bored he does actually have one toy: his sister. So, we have a lovely pattern of Jack bugging Ella, and Ella turning around and laying A SEVERE BEATING on her older brother. Then, he'll finally get tired of getting pounded and squeeze Ella's arm. Ella will then scream and cry like her arm has actually been ripped off. The Man and I will yell at them both to knock it off and Jack will shout:
"I DON'T LIKE MY MOM AND DAD TODAY. THEY'RE MEAN. I'M SENDING THEM TO JAIL."
In order to end these death battles I just pretended to call the park authorities all week. I can't tell you the number of times I flipped out either my real cell phone or 'pretend' cell phone to call the "bosses" to come and deal with my children. Remember how you used to take your hand as a kid, make it into a fist and point your finger and thumb and pretend it was your phone? Yeah, you can't imagine how many times that sucked my kids in. I even whipped out my pretend phone in the middle of the lake one day.
Heh heh, naive children.
So, tell me parents, and especially my homeboys and homegirls raising kids with special needs:
WHAT ARE YOUR FAMILY VACATIONS LIKE?