Over the river and through the woods...
to Grandmother's house we go. Only today we hop on the closest southwest flight and we stay with the kids rather than drop them off. The trips are pretty short...mostly a long weekend. And we all look forward to the time we can spend together as a family, or so we think. As I sit here in the mountains in North Carolina at my parents gorgeous cabin overlooking pastures of green grass, vibrant blue jays and cardinals feed from the bird feeder and wind chimes ceremoniously clanking in the background, I am interrupted by Mac, "I'm bored" she says. Seriously. Her words come out of her mouth like tiny little knives. As I look over to her from my perch in the rocking chair, her shoulders are slumped, she is in fact, in defeat. Her pink Nintendo DS is dangling from her left hand while the Wii Guitar is strapped around her neck. Under stairs are two boxes of toys that I packed myself after asking the girls numerious times to pack, also included are books and "journals" and coloring supplies we have bought for them the past week to keep Mac and Cheese busy and still Mac is bored and we are on only day two.
Should I tell her about when I was a kid my parents would drop off my brother and me at my Nana and Pop-Pop's in Ocala in an old folks home/ trailer park for a week at a time. We would have nothing more than a game of Yahtzee, an electric organ and a couple of gardening shovels and we found ways to keep ourselves completely occupied. We had a great time, and looked forward to getting our hands on those three objects, there were plenty of things we could do. For instance, we could "dig to china" using the 3x2 gardening shovels (this was an all day affair and we swore we could hear little Chinese conversations if we held our ears down to the soil). Or we would read the label of a shampoo bottle to the jazzy prerecorded tune of the electric organ and make our own commercials. And there was always the standby, we could pick up a game of Yahtzee in the carport with Nana and Pop-Pop or any kids that were also left in the trailer park for the weekend, not to mention the tons of games we made up with the five dice from the game. You could count on dinner to be served promptly at 5pm and you ate whatever was served on your plate (no requests). However, if you finished your meal you could take advantage of the cold lemon drops in the refrigerator or a frozen slice of Sarah Lee Coconut Cake. After dessert we would move to the family room and watch Lawrence Welk, catch a episode of Animal Kingdom or there were always the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney Movie. Life was so simple, both sweet and sour, but we never thought to complain or even mutter the words... I'm bored, at least that is how I remember it, my Nana may disagree.
Now traveling to see the grandparents is a family affair and one that is cherished by all. We get to travel to some great locations, the beach, the mountains and up north to New England. Kids are treated like the princesses they are, fed the meals they want and as parents we are rewarded with great adult conversations and happy hour each evening. I am not sure what other precautions to take to make sure the kids stay happy. The more they have the more they want and the more interaction they need. Maybe I should stage an intervention, box up the toys, Nintendo and the Ipods and leaving out a game of Boggle and two hula hoops and get back down to basics. Heck, I could even force them to sit through a hour of Lawrence Welk and the Donny & Marie show. Or on the other hand, maybe I should just drop them off and take a week's vacations, I mean seriously why can't I?