Tuesday, June 12, 2007

NOT My Idea of Resort Living

This past weekend was the first of two family graduations. This one was a high school graduation, and next weekend will be a college graduation. Very exciting and worthy celebrations for two of Mr. Chick's cousins.

For this first one, we had to travel, by car, nearly 5 hours to our destination. And while there is a certain part of me that loathes the idea of plying children with even MORE mind-numbing pursuits (aka portable DVD machine with car adapter!), the bigger part of me who appreciates a smooth car ride with young children wants to adopt that technology and make it mine, or perhaps make mad, passionate love to it. We rolled into town around 4pm, all just a little restless and stir-crazy from the drive.

My father-in-law lives in this town. It's a small-ish town (city? is it officially a city?) that is home to a large number of Mr. Chick's extended family. He has many aunts, uncles and cousins living there. Thankfully, he's not from there himself and therefore has no desire to ever call it home. One bright spot in this hell-hole is a nice resort. They are attempting to make it a "destination resort" in that it has a pretty nice Arnold Palmer-designed golf course. There are lots you can buy and build your dream home as well as a nice hotel and spa. My father-in-law booked us a room in this hotel.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner, went swimming, and made s'mores (courtesy of the hotel - all-you-can-eat s'mores for $1 per person!), and then figured it was time to get the kids down to bed. Let the fun and games commence!

We had a room with 2 queen beds. The kids staked out the "kids bed" right away and claimed their respective sides with their blankies. Jammies were unpacked and teeth were brushed. It was about 8:30pm. The kids got into bed and immediately started fussing about each other. "he's touching me!" and "gimme back my blankie!" and the like. Mr. Chick and I wordlessly and mutually decided on the Ignore Them strategy, thinking it best not to feed the flames. Plus, too, we were both enthralled with the various home renovation shows they have on cable and didn't want to risk missing the big reveal or any of the various dramas that inevitably happen when one is trying to flip that house in under 4 weeks time. But the TV was proving to be a distraction for our now very over-tired children, so we switched to Divide and Conquer. I brought Lauren into bed with me and Mr. Chick moved over to the other bed with Nicholas. Girls and boys, separated. This worked for Nicholas, who fell asleep soon afterwards. Lauren, however, my stubborn girl-child, was unwilling to allow herself to sleep and was instead trying to engage me in peek-a-boo and other fun games. Eventually, though, she crashed and Mr. Chick moved her back to the kids bed. By now I was almost asleep myself and all seemed well with the world.


2:30am and I'm jolted awake by the sound of the door opening. This freaked me out as I immediately wondered who in the hell could be coming into my room??!! It took me a second to realize that Mr. Chick was not next to me in bed and it was him, in fact, who was coming back into the room. But the adrenaline shot to my system now had me wide awake. And I was not happy about it. It seems his allergies were bad and Mr. Chick woke up from them and needed to go get some meds from our car. The leaving didn't wake me, but the coming back in sure did. And then, wouldn't you know, *my* allergies seemed annoyingly present so I took a pill as well. I was just getting re-settled into my bed, preparing to go right back to sleep as it wasn't yet 3am, when Mr. Chick, no shit, turned the television on. What the - ??! "sorry babe, I can't sleep." Well, um, now *I* can't sleep, either, with the flicking light of that screen illuminating the dark. And you'd better hope it doesn't wake up the kids or you will be very sorry, mister. As luck would have it, it was yet another home re-do show (are those things on 24/7??) so we laid in bed, in the middle of the godforsaken night, watching TV. NOW I know why we don't have a TV in our room at home. It took me at least an hour to drift off to sleep again.

Fast forward less than 3 measly hours to 6:30am and Nicholas, who has no sense of his own volume, announcing he's awake which means we need to call Opa RIGHT.NOW. and tell him we're ready for breakfast. Um, HELL NO, kid - go back to sleep! Sadly, this strategy doesn't work on him anymore so we allowed cartoons on low, low, LOW volume. But just like the night before, the two of them started getting into it over who would sit where, who was blocking the view, and who was touching whom. God. My eyes, they were scratchy from fatigue. We all went swimming before breakfast, hoping the water would revive us all. It helped - some.

The day of graduation was nice and it was good to see the various relatives we don't get to see very often. That family, being so large, spans the entire socio-economic scale. There are those who didn't do much with their lives and flirted with disaster and criminal activity, to high school drop-outs, to successful, country-club types living large and getting their boobs done. It's an interesting experience to get all of them in one room.

And we'll do it again next weekend at the 2nd graduation. The only saving grace in that scenario is that we can drive down and back in one day and don't have to endure another night in a hotel with the kids. I don't think I'd survive it. I sure as hell know they wouldn't - I'd end up killing them first.

Hi there,

Our family (2 kids 9 and a just turned 6) driving the 18 hour distance from Ottawa to PEI for the last 5 years. I thought I'd share how I keep the kids going through that drive (done in two days) without resorting to TV for Movies (I refuse to have my guys watch tv in the car! its in my opinion lazy to expect a TV to keep kids occupied)

I do the following:

1. I purchase 2 small packs(back packs or bags and with a theme in mind (last year was pirates) I fill them with toys, activities and interesting stuff bought at garage sales, second hand or the dollar store
2. I pack travelling games (smaller versions of sorry and scrable)
3. We have eye spy time, and "would you rather" time (great game)
4. I record on our CD fun songs that the kids will enjoy (some tame black eyed pees stuff)
5. Pack Colouring books and pencils/crayons with a net bag they can reach
6.I buy a map for each kid, highlight our route and have them identify signs etc. on the way to see who can identify the town or city we are in.

I think we as parents really need to use our creativity for long drives and not rely on TV or Videos, it actually makes the kids more restless than fun activities that challenge them.

Hope that helps you and anyone reading who thinks slipping in a TV or Video in a van for a long drive is something the kids will enjoy. My kids have so much fun with their packs and activities, TV would ruin it for them.

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