Friday, September 9, 2011

Family Vacation.

I've just come back from a beautiful, fun filled, two week vacation. Things went a lot smoother than anticipated. Anyone who has ever travelled with family members knows that things often can and do go awry. So as we started off a couple of Mondays ago, heading for the ferry that would take us to the sunshine coast and a long awaited visit at Scott's mother's - finally finished - dream home, I imagined all that could befall us. From projectile motion sickness to explosive diapers to overly excited, non-listening children who climbed the railings of the ferry and fell off the boat. Yes I prepared for all possibilities. With three children ranging in age from cranky toddler to cranky baby, I didn't hold much hope for fun during the actual travel time to get to our first destination. Turns out I should have had a little more faith in my kids, myself, and my ever steadfast husband.

To travel successfully with any family you must have a perfected formula. Every person in your vehicle of choice - from car to train - must be assigned a certain role or expectation. If you set your expectation too high or even too low you will inevitably have a family vacation that's as memorable as any of the Griswold's.

The first designation handed out for any familial travel endeavour is Navigator. This individual must get every person alive and intact from point A to point B. In my family's case the Navigator is my husband as he is the only licensed driver in our brood (I have a phobia, okay?) Conversation from the Navigator is often scarce, quick and to the point; and eventually you learn to decipher any information you might want or need from the under the breath mutterings and sighs of indignation or frustration from said individual. Every eye twitch or quiet hum issued forth from this person can reveal things as diverse as a wrong turn to the happy and timely arrival at the midway point of your trip (Mickey D's in our case). The Navigator is an essential part of any family vacation, but they are only a means to an end, in order to have a Happy and Relaxed environment for your trip you must have a great Second in Command.

The Second in Command, or the Lieutenant if you will, keeps all secondary players cooperative and in line; while juggling the affairs of the Navigator. Everything from cell phone calls, to food handouts, to any necessary disciplinary action is meted out by this integral part of any travelling unit. The lieutenant's success or failure will directly impact the morale of the group. If this role is not handled with the utmost of care, and the perfect balance of strict discipline and goofy fun is not struck then dissension in the ranks will occur. The screams, cries, and violent outburst from the secondary players will be so disruptive that the travel time of your vacation may become torturous and unforgiving. The Navigator and Second in Command must work together and communicate effectively in order to arrive at Point B without a single casualty.

Finally we come to the grunts or travelling trainees. These are the individuals who are slowly learning how to remain patient during the seemingly endless change of scenery and ironically continuous movement during long periods of restraint. Only practice will create perfect travelling companions and so the grunts must learn how to enjoy confinement while looking forward to a new found freedom of early mornings, late nights, extinguished naps, and days filled with endless activities. You can recognize any grunt by one innocuous and annoying enquiry, "Are we there yet?". Upon hearing this question once every twenty minutes the Navigator will sigh, and a good Lieutenant will answer, "Not yet, but soon. How about a game of Eye Spy?" Until at last freedom is gained and the vacation begins.

And so I am happy to report that we didn't lose one single person through motion sickness, violent backseat outbursts or swan dives off the ferry deck. In a family vacation, my friends, that is the definition of Success!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great writing! Too funny but completely!