Ahh. Family vacation. Quite the oxymoron when you think about it.
Here’s a riddle for you. When is vacation even worse than being at home?
When you have a toddler! Ding ding ding!
I hate to bitch about it (ha! who am I kidding?) because there are worse things than vacationing on the beach in a mansion steps from the ocean all subsidized by your in-laws. It was the kids, dammit. They throw a wrench into everything. I blame them.
Let me tell you the pros of this vacation first, since hopefully that will help me to not come off as a spoiled cranky bi-atch once I start bitching.
1. Steps from the ocean. Covered that already. But it was awesome.
2. Whole week subsidized by in-laws. Again, covered. And really nice.
3. Watching Noah squeal with delight as he plowed into the ocean. Over and over and over and over again. Priceless.
4. Katya having a whole week to play barbies with her cousins. Instead of me. This also replaced her constant desire at home to trip a freshly walking Noah repeatedly and laugh when he falls. (He also laughs, but this whole exercise seems rather sadistic….)
5. The anticipation for the Pirate treasure hunt that Mat and I orchestrate each year. The kids talk about it all week. Well, Katya talks about it all week. Last year with the impending hurricane the week was cut short and no treasure hunt. Twas mutiny afoot. So we had to top ourselves this year. What’s funny is that I think Katya really believes Mat and I “talk to the pirates” and that they really do leave the treasure, kinda like Santa. This year she said “thanks Pirates!” out loud and I said “You’re welcome!” and she looked at me funny and said, “wait, you’re the pirate?!?” Uh, no, I mean, I’m sure the pirates would say “you’re welcome!” you know…if they were here…. And that solved that. For now.
Ok. So what sucked? Pretty much everything else.
1. Rental houses NEVER had adequate blinds on the windows. What the ef? Seriously, in the summer in the northeast the sun doesn’t go down until 9 pm and it rises at 4.30. Those chintzy tin white blinds in your million dollar house do not cut it. Noah’s bed time is 7.30, and of course our bedroom faced west, and it was like we moved not to New Jersey but instead the surface of the sun and forgot protective eyewear to keep our eyeballs from turning to ash. He was not pleased.
2. No screens on the windows. Again, a big what the ef? Who doesn’t put screens on their windows? It would have been nice to feel the ocean breeze without worrying my child might fall to a horrific and untimely death during our vacation. Also unfortunately ironic was the fact that I had to pipe in “waves crashing” from my sound machine because I couldn’t hear waves crashing through the locked down windows. Boo.
3. Stairs. I mean, we have stairs at home, which we guard from our future mountain climber with a big gate that we have to straddle over to get up and down. What we do not have at home are 80 year old grandparents. This setup – the climbing over the gate while teetering at the top of the stairs (all houses on the shore are “upside down” with the main living area on the second floor) to be able to get anywhere – was quite precarious. Fortunately everyone survived, ironically with the exception of my pregnant ass losing my balance and blowing out my flip flop. And peeing myself slightly in the process.
4. Not having any of your own baby setup. This is the part that totally sucks. We had to make do with a wobbly bedside table as the changing area, and with no Diaper Genie to save us from stank, we were running the dirty diapers out all the time with a toddler following closely behind. Pack n Play is a poor substitute for a cushy crib in Noah’s opinion, which he made known every night at 1 am by waking up screaming. I made Mat bring in from the upstairs patio a dirty rocking chair so that I could try and soothe Noah to sleep in the bright, bright sun. No babyproofed doorlocks, so Noah’s favorite pastimes were a choice of baptizing himself in the toilet or pulling all the paper off the roll and then eating it. I could go on.
5. Having to warn everyone over and over not to leave coffee, milk, water, wine, beer, Manhattans, cigars, food, Ipads, Iphones, remote controls, magazines, books, toys, or any other paraphenalia on a surface that could be reached by sticky fingers, or else said item was sure to be spilled, thrown, torn, stepped on, swallowed, or otherwise ruined. (this not only meant all coffee tables, but also at least two feet in from the dining table and counters too.) Mat’s niece picked up sewing recently, complete with millions of different sized needles and scissors, and spools and spools of thread. That was fun.
6. Having to rearrange all decor within 3 feet of the ground so Noah didn’t stab himself, drop a vase on his foot, break something, or pull a bookshelf down on top of him.
7. Bonus fun – renting bikes for the week and then realizing that my swollen pregnant ass – I mean that literally – cannot bear to sit on the skinny little bitch seat without causing my hemorrhoids to riot.
8. Doing it all on our own. I mean, I get that Mat’s parents wanted to vacation too. But I was lucky to squeeze out time for a zit pop from Nana and Pops. My friend calls these grandparents “social grandparents,” which are totally different from the “hands-on” type. They like to be around the kids (as long as there’s not much screaming, pooping, or mess) but not to really…touch. I mean, Nana let Noah crawl halfway down the beach screaming while I was taking a quick dip, I think because she didn’t want to get sand all over herself by picking him up.
Speaking of sand, that leads us to the next superfun part of the beach vacation. The beach!
We needed a mule train and some friendly sherpas to pack all of this crap to the oceanfront. Which sucked all the more because Noah would only last about an hour and a half before he tuckered himself out, only to immediately then get a second wind to blast us with nuclear holocaust. To avoid the Apocalypse we had to emergency pack everything up and rush home.
I mentioned our house was on the beach? Cool, right? Except that we had to set up shop where the lifeguards were, which was about a mile – give or take my exaggeration – down the hot sand.
Before kids, my beach bag was filled with – US Weekly, Twilight Breaking Dawn, Gummi Bears, Sudoku, suntan oil, and a wine cooler.
This year, we had – two chairs, 5 towels, umbrella, stroller, 4 sand buckets and shovels and other plastic toys, plastic kiddie pool, ice chest with 3 different kinds of snacks, 4 water bottles and fruit (no alcohol!), 5 different kinds of sunscreen for various body parts, regular diapers, backup water diapers, wipes, sanitizer, hats, baby sunglasses (stupidest invention ever), change of clothes, coverups, Frisbee, and a soccer ball.
Mat threw in a book one day and I chuckled. “What?” he asks. “Aren’t you proud of me for doing some reading?” Um, yeah. “You really think you are going to have a spare second to read a book on this jaunt?” What I meant was, “you are definitely NOT going to have time to read, and even if you did, I would make you take over so I could read.”
It only took me until day 7 to figure out that Noah was pretty happy eating sand, didn’t care about the toys, never stayed under the umbrella or in his hat or sunglasses, and that we didn’t last out there long enough for snacks, reapplication of sunscreen, or even poopy diapers.
You know what I love most about the beach, though? Sand and saltwater! Especially when your squirmy toddler is starting said holocaust and is grinding both into your sunbaked skin. In the process he’s also driving it deeper and deeper into both your and his nether regions and various orifices where it is sure to never be reached.
Now this is what I call vacation!! As you can imagine, I’m quivering with anticipation for our family “vacation” next year, which will include beach-time fun with an 11-month old and a two year old. At least then I won’t be preggo anymore and can partake in my wine cooler.