Szyperski: Nine years, two months, 26 daysWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
My husband and I recently took our first overnight trip without our children. No, seriously, it was the first time in the history of our parenthood that it was just us completely sans children for more than a few hours. The little Saturday-to-Sunday miracle took us nine years, two months and 26 days to put in motion.
OK, OK. I admit that it probably could have been sooner, the reason for the delay being threefold. First of all, the combination of Mike and I being nervous nellies paired with the realization that we are raising one child who can outrun us, one child who can out-climb us and one child who can mentally-out-maneuver us did not conjure up the picture of a carefree weekend away. If our children can continuously torture us in new and scarier ways, what chance would someone unaware of all their tricks of the trade have in preventing mass casualties over a two-day span?
Secondly, despite the constant chaos and labor-intensive work schedule, we rather like the little tikes. It’s difficult to go out for a few hours and not be concerned about them and/or wish they were with us to experience something, much less overnight. However, all three seem to have prematurely entered their teen years (at ages 3, 6 and 9) during this hot summer of 2012. Suddenly, temporarily ditching them seemed more acceptable and much more appealing.
Last and kind of least, money, money, money. Our vacation funds tend to go to extended family vacation obligations, which leaves little, if any, funds for family-of-five choose-your-own adventures. There is obviously no hope then for trickle-down money for just the two of us to do a getaway. After nine years, however, we finally came to the conclusion that our children are, for some reason, just as happy with an ice cream cone as they are with a long weekend away. In light of this epiphany, we did an inexpensive day trip with our three children and then, for once, saved the hotel stay and nice dinner out for ourselves.
Our easily homesick middle daughter’s excitement at the announcement that she didn’t have to spend a night away from her beloved homestead was enough assurance that we were implementing a fair plan and not just hanging our little ones out to dry. In addition, our oldest seemed genuinely happy that just the two of us were getting away for a night, and our youngest was thrilled that we were supplying her with cheese curls while we were gone. Everyone was indeed happy.
Approximately an hour into our couple time, my cell phone rang and an unfamiliar number appeared on my display. It was our 9-year-old, Jack, wondering how everything was going. Unbeknownst to grandma and as quite the surprise to me, he had figured out how to make a phone call from his iPod Touch. Any tiny ounce of insecurity I had about the home fort being held down was instantly put to rest. If Jack could call my cell phone from his iPod, surely he would have no trouble remembering how to call 911 from our landline if need be.
Meal times offered perhaps the most joyful appreciation of our kid-free time. We opted for ice cream at our normal dinner time and pizza later at the 10:00 hour followed by more dessert, apparently just to stick it to the kids that we could do whatever we wanted whenever. There was also something about observing the parents in the hotel breakfast area the next morning who were catering to their children, explaining every last detail and not having a chance to eat themselves that made for an even more relaxing break. Not my kid, not my duty to explain how to toast the waffles. Ahhh, this is the life.
Still, seeing the parents with their children also made me eager to return to my own. Of course, what we actually ended up returning to was a 9-year-old’s inquisition. Jack needed to know the details of every minute we were out of his sight, which was ironic considering I’ve heard almost nary a word about his away-from-me minutes since he started school four years ago. We obliged to his satisfaction, but I’m not quite expecting the same in return as he enters his honest-to-goodness tween and teen years.
Short vacation story short, we all made it through Mom and Dad’s first night away with flying colors. The only thing I would definitely add is an extra night or two.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania.