Wednesday, July 11, 2012

summer family va-caca-ation

I am like a popsicle stuffed in the glove box of a car on a trip to the beach on a hot summer day without air conditioning. I do not travel well. Yet there we were-the six of us- with the truck stuffed with items to answer almost any ‘what if X happens?’ We were headed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for First Born Son’s last soccer tournament of the season, the Mid Atlantic Cup. This would be my first experience at an out of town tournament.

It was also the first time we were travelling our two year old. I didn’t have much time to prepare as we had only decided to make the event a family ‘vacation’ the weekend prior. I filled a canvas bag- a bag of diversions for The Baby- with random small toys and crafts I picked up at a discount store.  We borrowed my sister’s DVD player and filled the feedbags. I put The Baby in disposable training pants- even though she had been 90% potty trained- to ease undue anxiety about super soakage. We were good to go. But, I issued a disclaimer that travelling would not be any fun and that I would not enjoy it one bit. ‘I may not survive, so take care of the house and one another as I would take care of you.’

For the first time in our history of being a family we were on schedule. We drove out of New York State where even the hilly farmland seemed flat compared to the lofty panorama that ushered us to Pennsylvania. Corn and grain swayed on undulating hills which unfolded perpendicularly from our road. Houses grew fewer and the numbers of cows nestled in trees grew greater.  The whimsy of a reindeer farm inspired a yearning The Mr. and I shared aloud- to live on land- with grass that is not crabgrass and prickly weed. We carried on through valleys, along lakes- with mountains swelling toward the sky. The clouds grazing the treetops, dappled the broccoli bushel hills resembling primitive patchwork.

As we drove through the Tioga State Forest, the kids were lulled by the arresting scenery- on their iPods. And the only sound from The Baby was a snuffled, rhythmic breathing. She had been asleep for most of the trip. Not once had I resorted to cracking open the DVD player or scrambling through her bag of distractions. For all of the agitation she incites in her normal waking hours, she was mastering the art of travel by dreaming away the miles.  I fell in love with her a little more and my heart soared with gratitude.

I would have to recant my negative statement about the fate of this trip. It was going to be all right. First Born Son, knowing that this was the first trip without my MP3 player created a playlist of palatable tunes for me. He introduced me to Family of the Year and I said, ‘Son, we are Family of the Year.’ 

Oh, but good fortune is a double- crosser. It was 98 degrees outside and Saturday was going to be 102 in open fields. Even though we had the luxury of air conditioning, the kids wanted to swim in the outdoor pool. As I was undressing The Baby, I encouraged her use the bathroom. And without a grimace or a grunt, she exploded. She didn’t complain of a stomachache. There was a chance it was nothing- that maybe the ride had unsettled her. But, there was a chance of having to scramble out of the pool with Baby Ruths trailing behind us. So I opted to stay back in the hotel with her where she merrily ran back and forth between the adjoining rooms. Customarily among our children, incessant merry running is a precursor to being knocked down with the flu. Despite a restful sleep, I suspected what lied in store for me the next day.

The Baby woke with a raging fever, her bottom lacking discipline. Suffice it to say I was grateful for the decision to bring disposable training pants. And extra garbage bags.  Despite having made it to Pennsylvania and finally having the opportunity to watch my son play a game he is so passionate about, I would be spending the day sequestered in the hotel room with a sick two year old.

She was so small-her burning body pressed against mine, her voice quietly croaking for ice water. She was colorful with her slapped cheeks and her fiery hair against the white hotel linens.  She fell in and out of sleep and it was the closest to stillness that she has ever assumed during the daylight hours. While my heart hurt for her discomfort, I reveled in the gift of the moment of enveloping her and being able to gaze upon her face while she slept. I felt trapped between sweetness and suffocation as we spent the whole day in bed. But, as much as I yearned to care for her in the comfort of our home, I knew there was a reason that her sickness coincided with our trip. While the other members of our family, fought keep their wits about them in 102 degree weather, we were caressed by the icy tendrils of an air conditioned room. The perfect climate for snuggling.

The weekend was not all lost. The Baby rallied on Sunday morning in time to catch the final match and witness First Born Son’s team win the Cup. The sky was overcast and a breeze sputtered in my ear, ‘No regrets. No regrets.’

We still haven’t fully recuperated from our va-caca-ation.  It is true what has been said about getting there being half the fun. What they don’t tell you is that getting back is the other half of the fun. Back through the rolling hills, winding around the lakes, through the forest,  along the cornfields, to the roads where the number of cows in trees grows fewer and the number of houses sandwiched together grows greater, past the familiar street signs, up the front steps, over the threshold. Home.  

The other Family of the Year:

1 comment:

  1. No caca in the car though? Thank god for THAT blessing. I love that you are an over prepared traveler like myself. Inevitably, I always end up needing that roll of paper towels or the travel potty. High five for a semi-successful va-caca-ation!!! Glad The Baby feels better, too!