Category Archives: Mom vs. Dad

The Best Plans

When my husband announced he’d be off for the kids’ winter break, I had mixed feelings. The four of us together for eleven days with no real plans sounded like the perfect recipe for a bubbling disaster. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. But there are many weekends I don’t think I’ll survive, when I think we all can’t wait for Monday to come. The kids fight over who gets which vitamin at breakfast, who gets to brush their teeth first, and the grumpiness escalates from there.

I can handle them fine on my own for a week. They run off in their pajamas and play while I have a little “work” to do. But throw another adult in the mix and they suddenly need to be supervised. They need someone to play with them. This usually translates to my son begging my husband to be with him 24/7 and my husband not getting any peace.

I needed a plan. Eleven days together couldn’t possibly go well if we didn’t have a schedule of fantastic places to go. Our usual winter break of the kids and me lying around the house in our pj’s, playing games, crafting, watching movies, and playing the day by ear would drive my husband crazy, I thought. He would be bored in the house, the kids wouldn’t leave him alone, and I wouldn’t be able to stand the tension.

Or so I thought.

I never did make that plan. And we did lie around the house playing games, watching movies, reading books, and just doing whatever we wanted. The kids played with friends a couple of times. Save for one meltdown and a few minor fusses, our vacation went smoothly. We snow-tubed our way down a mountain one day, toasted in the new year together, and discussed every Star Wars character we could think of. We broke in my son’s new basketball goal, learned a new domino game, and broke household records and slept in every day. We drove dolls around in their new pink jeep, made the best chocolate-chocolate chip cookies ever, built the city of Atlantis, and made Lego starships take flight.

The night before my husband had to go back to work, I could tell something was wrong. He was sad. Since our son was a baby, that’s the longest time we’ve had at home together as a family to just be. To just enjoy each other, to have nowhere to be, and to go where the days took us.

We didn’t do anything fancy. We didn’t go far. But we defied all expectations and proved that sometimes the best times are those that are unplanned.

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Whoopee!

On vacation a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of a big difference between my husband and me. It involves an 8-year-old boy, a first encounter with a whoopee cushion, a crowded beach store, and lots of giggles.

While shopping in one of the many tourist stores, my son came upon a self-inflating whoopee cushion. I knew he had never seen one, so I sat back to take in his reaction. Another first in his life I didn’t want to miss. In a corner at the back of the store, he repeatedly plopped his bottom onto the cushion and laughed at the resounding flatulence. He, his cousin, and sister took turns trying to get the best noise. I was the adult overseeing this nonsense and got a few giggles out of it myself, remembering my own fun with one many years ago. It wasn’t a big scene, just some innocent laughter and then I broke it up.

My son took the cushion and said he wanted to show it to his dad. I wondered how this would turn out, but I didn’t make it through the crowd in time to see my husband’s reaction.

My husband recalled the scene later: “Our son came up to the front of the store where everyone was standing in a long line at the register. He put the whoopee cushion on the floor and said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to see this!’ and plopped down on it. Pffffttttt! I just walked away and pretended he wasn’t my son.”

I sometimes feel our roles are reversed, when a whoopee cushion disturbs my husband more than me. What would I have told my son at the register in front of all those people? I know I would have told him to put it back…after I stopped laughing.

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