Whenever my wife Kara and I venture into conversations about the expensive and stinky world of child-having, people who have already taken the sippy-cup plunge inevitably offer us some variation of this advice: “Go see movies. Go out to dinner. Go to the Eiffel Tower. Do everything you ever hoped to do before you die, and do it all before you have kids.”
This might sound like reasonable advice, but you have to keep in mind that it’s usually coming from people who have throw up on their shoulders. Besides, I don’t really understand why having kids has to keep you from doing the things you enjoy. Our ferret easily takes care of himself for long weekends when we’re away, and he doesn’t even have thumbs or Dora the Explorer DVDs. I just can’t imagine how a baby with a full water dish, a remote control and a big salad bowl full of apple sauce wouldn’t be good to go until at least Sunday afternoon.
Also, if you give a ferret a raisin and run out the door while he’s still chewing, he won’t even notice that you’re leaving. When taking off for the weekend, you’d probably have to do something like that with a baby, too, if you’re going to be a responsible parent.
I think people are advising us to do all of these things because there’s just no point in taking kids on vacation. They won’t remember any of it. When my sister Amy recently told my parents that she was finally going on her first trip to Hawaii, Mom said, “But we took you to Hawaii when you were a kid. Don’t you remember?”
“I was two!” Amy said.
“Well, you had fun,” Mom replied. I can kind of see Amy’s point, though. I bet a luau is much more fun when you can handle solid foods.
Not being a parent myself, I can only imagine the frustration of shelling out copious amounts of money for trips that, as far as your children are concerned, barely even happened. Kara’s family took a couple of Disney cruises when she was little, and she can’t even tell me anything about what they did or saw while they were there. All she remembers is her younger sister Sarah fleeing in terror from Mickey Mouse, which, to a three year-old, must appear to be the logical thing to do.
Traumatic events like that seem to be the most memorable, so I’ll have to be sure to work them into our future family itineraries. Kara may not remember meeting Goofy, but she sure recollects her cousin Doug stomping on toads in the Poconos, or the time she proudly held up a garter snake to show her parents, insisting that she had just discovered a really big worm.
If you’re unable to schedule in trauma to make sure that your vacations get remembered, sometimes fellow travelers will pitch in to supply it. While I just vaguely remember the scenes of natural beauty from our family trip to the Grand Canyon when I was little, I can still vividly recall this one man with a camera around his neck offering his infant a better view by picking the child up under the armpits and dangling him over the railing, with nothing under the infant’s bottom but a diaper and about a thousand feet of desert air.
Everyone in our group froze, watching, stunned, until the infant was safely back on our side of the railing, blissfully unaware of his father’s casual experimentation with Darwinism. My memory is a little spotty, so I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure that the kid’s father later went on to write several hit songs, invent the moonwalk and become an androgynous punch line.
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