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Vacationland–Kids in Tow

July 23, 2010

Last week I got a good laugh out of a travel article headlined, “Paris with Kids.” I don’t think it was intended as a humorous article, but I found that the  tips for  keeping kids happy veered into the absurd: Stay in a hotel with a pool (for only $950 a night); room service where children can order DVD’s along with chocolate chip cookies (for an additional fee, or ransom of your first-born). Mind you, we too took our kids to Paris in my earlier  delusional years, thinking they’d enjoy the ancient sites, that I could lure them with my knowledge of the remarkable 13th century cathedrals and stained glass, that the Louvre would be fascinating. My youngest son wrote a report on the trip, which he read to his 3rd grade class (all parents dutifully in attendance). It was chiefly about the fun of getting lost with his older brother in EuroDisney while their Dad rode Space Mountain (followed by frantic search for and recovery of them).  William ended his account with, “Paris smells like cigarette smoke, I hope we go back real soon.” Parents approached me quizzically later, saying, “Uh, where were you when the kids got lost?”  “In the Galleries Lafayette shopping for table linens.”  The kids have never lost their delight in reminding us of that story of flawed parenting.  It was after that trip that I reached the point of total capitulation and simply wised up to the fact that you’re better off following your children’s interests for ideal family time.

That brings us, years later, to the present vacation. I, battling vertigo, will be dangling from a rocky precipice on the Otter Cliffs, as I watch the receding form of my oldest son, the experienced rock climber among us, his T-shirt emblazoned with, “If you die, we’ll split your gear.”  Surviving that, I plan to join them for an ice-cold dip in the lake (tepid Caribbean water more my speed); followed by a big plate of onion rings–finally a shared interest. But there is payback time at the end of the day, when everyone will owe me a rousing game of badminton. Regulation-style. Beats Paris any day.

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