Two weeks ago I posted about my impending road trip with my kids. I had a hunch that despite the naysayers we would have a great time. Guess what? I was right.
This is what I learned:
1. People rise to expectations. Even little people. Ignoring the meltdown my daughter had at each of the three family members’ homes we stayed at, my 3- and 5-year-olds were remarkably well behaved. Lots of explanations, including that everything was new, and my brilliant, curious children were engaged — even on the road (they’re city kids, so they aren’t in cars that often). Also, I took a true vacation, did not do any work and felt truly relaxed. The herd follows the leader. Finally – I expected that we would have a great time. And we did.
2. If I spoil my kids every now and again, they will not grow up to be Veruca Salt. When we arrived at my mom’s Milwaukee condo after a few days with my brother and sister-in-law in Chicago, we were greeted with the scent of oatmeal raisin cookies wafting from the oven. I initially put my foot down, as dinner was near and Helena and Lucas had just pigged out on my SIL’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. Then I reconsidered. “They’re on vacation – give them a cookie!” I told my mom. (Translation: “I want a cookie!”). Other goodies: consistently ignoring our 8 p.m. bedtime. An ice cream stop at McDonald’s, which was all my idea because my children don’t know what McDonald’s is and frankly, they were not impressed. And for a bedtime tret before conking out on the final stretch home: A giant bag of gummy bears. Even though they didn’t eat dinner.
3. I love sleeping near my kids. Last year I put my foot down about kids in my bed. Aside from morning snuggles and the occasional illness, everyone is to sleep in their own sack. On the road, we shared a room – hotels, guest rooms. The kids love cuddling into “special beds” made of sheets and quilts folded into mini sleeping bags on the floor. I love having them close and hearing their tiny snores all night — just like when they were co-sleeping infants.
4. The more time I spend with my kids, the more time I want to spend with my kids. In our daily routine of shuffling everyone here and there and fighting against the clock, I find it easy to count the minutes until I have alone time. When there is no alone time in sight, it was easier to live in the minute. As I write this on Sunday afternoon — a time when I normally enjoy the freedom that comes with shared custody — I miss my monkeys.