We have returned from a weeklong road trip and therefore my default background noise has changed from the thrum of tires on the highway to the pew pew pew pew KAPOW! *random dance music* of Fortnite.

My GOSH, family vacations are a grind, aren’t they? We traveled to Montana with the intent of visiting Glacier National Park (which didn’t work out because of fire-related closures), spent a few days on Flathead Lake, then motored back to Sunriver in Eastern Oregon before heading home. Everything was mostly delightful — the scenery, the activities, the sodium-laden convenience store snacks — but also as the days went on I kind of felt this growing desire to hurl myself in front of a speeding freight truck?

Just: the bickering. So. Much. Bickering! About everything it is humanly possible to bicker about, and when they had exhausted every single subject known to mankind they transcended the boundaries of the known universe in order to dig up more shit to bicker about. Really, my kids had two modes during this entire trip: 1) plugged into devices and therefore sweetly, blessedly silent, or 2) arguing with each other about SOME POINTLESS GODDAMNED THING.

Dylan in particular has entered a mischievous Calvin-esque stage and continually plots to annoy his easily-annoyed brother, which resulted in a couple of standout moments: a scene mid-conversation in an Idaho restaurant when we all suddenly noticed Riley had a tiny straw-wrapper spitball lodged in his braces, blown there by Dylan, who instantly collapsed in the sort of hysterical laughter that had other patrons eyeing our table and visibly wondering if they should call 911, and a scrawled note that sent Riley’s hair on end after he’d suffered mightily through a horror movie (which I admit was definitely a mistake on my part) which read, in red crayon, YoU CaN’T GeT RiD of the BaBadoOk.

The fighting, the loudness, the clothes strewn everywhere, the relentless closeness of being together 24/7 for days on end … whoo, I don’t know, it just adds up, you know? And then there are all these amazing times where everyone is in sync and we’re laughing and experiencing something awesome together or just looking over from one hotel bed to the next and smiling and that’s everything, that’s why we do it.

A family vacation is just the perfect microcosm of parenting in general: it’s so incredibly great, it’s so ridiculously hard.

Comments

15 Responses to “Scenic views”

  1. Donna Plumley Brubach on August 21st, 2018 4:21 pm

    I want to get with you next time. Sounds like heaven.

  2. Anonymous on August 21st, 2018 4:22 pm

    Go with. Duh.

  3. Maureen on August 21st, 2018 4:57 pm

    How my parents used to take road trips with 5 kids-I’ll never know. Plus it was in the 60’s and 70’s-where the only distractions were reading in the car, looking out the window, and irritating the hell out of your siblings. My dad did do the “if I have to turn this car around” thing, but like you said-we had lots of laughs and great memories.

  4. Maureen on August 21st, 2018 4:57 pm

    How my parents used to take road trips with 5 kids-I’ll never know. Plus it was in the 60’s and 70’s-where the only distractions were reading in the car, looking out the window, and irritating the hell out of your siblings. My dad did do the “if I have to turn this car around” thing, but like you said-we had lots of laughs and great memories.

  5. Andrea on August 21st, 2018 7:58 pm

    Best family vacation was July 1977. Flew from the East Coast to Phoenix Arizona. Then began 2 weeks of driving to all the “biggies” in the Southwest. Sticking to the vinyl seats in the rental car, being “divided” by a styrofoam cooler in the back, edging it over little by little, and screaming, “GET OFF MY SIDE,” repeatedly. Being sooooo disappointed to discover that the Petrified Forest was just a bunch of rocks, but also lots of discovery, laughs, and memories that are still so vivid 40 years later. My brother and I live 3000 miles apart now. When we get together, we can always tell when we need a break. We become 13 and 11, and the bickering starts, to the delight of my young adult children.

  6. Scott Hagg on August 22nd, 2018 5:52 am

    YoU CaN’T GeT RiD of the BaBadoOk.
    WTF. Holy crap, I just watched the trailer,
    horrifyingly unsettling. I’m scared at work now.

  7. Cheryl on August 22nd, 2018 6:54 am

    As I end up reminding my mother at any mention of a house rental for a week for all of us, “there’s a reason we all moved out”. I love my siblings, but after 2 days we’re 11 years old again.

  8. Kelly on August 22nd, 2018 7:03 am

    I’m so glad you wrote this. I’e been jealously eyeing your pictures on Instagram and lamenting that my boys would never have given us that perfect-seeming vacation you all were having. Now I know the truth! You guys are human too!

  9. Mary Walsh on August 22nd, 2018 8:33 am

    The good moments are what we remember later. The annoyances get quickly blurred in our minds, right? I guess that means its worth the pain-in-the-assery of taking kids on trips. We went to Europe with our kids when they were in the toddler & preschool stages. I remember the stress of potty-training using foreign toilets and the pushing stroller (with toddler who insisted on throwing her shoes repeatedly on the Paris streets), but the bad times are now the good stories now =)

  10. Alison on August 22nd, 2018 5:50 pm

    The fighting kills me too. If they run out of things to fight about they move on to imaginary scenarios! I am not going to listen to a screaming car fight about whether one child is willing to share a toy/item that we do not even own! Gah.

  11. Amy on August 23rd, 2018 12:03 pm

    A-freaking-Men! Good memories but in the middle of it I feel like a horrible human for flipping out over this petty sibling crap. :)

  12. Frondly on August 26th, 2018 3:16 pm

    You’ve seen this, right? My husband and I laughed pretty hard at it.
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/m-blazoned/vacation-or-trip-a-helpful-guide-for-parents_b_7789310.html

  13. Missy on August 28th, 2018 10:23 pm

    SO so true. It can be ridiculously hard. I just realized it’s the same way I feel about golf. So great when it goes well and so bad when it doesn’t. But you’re always chasing the good because you know it exists. Sigh. Today was a par day. Yesterday double bogey. But tomorrow could be a hole in one. Gotta keep at it.

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