“Hi dad,” the daughter said over the phone a few months ago. “Have I got an opportunity for you! As you know, the hubby and I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary.”
“Are you kidding me?” I said totally shocked. “It seems like just yesterday I depleted our saving account for a spectacular wedding with open bar and a chicken-dance DJ.”
“And it was worth every penny, dad. We’ve made it 15 years, so we want to celebrate with a trip to Punta Cana.”
“Punta Cana? Isn’t that where Dollywood is? Your daughters will absolutely love that.”
“No, Dad. Punta Cana is in the Dominican Republic and I was hoping that you and Mom and the hubby’s parents could split the babysitting while we were gone. That way the hubby and I can enjoy an all-inclusive kid-free anniversary.”
“So, to be clear,” I said sternly, “you want Mom and I to watch your daughters while you gallivant around the globe sipping pina coladas under a beach umbrella in the Caribbean?”
And then, just to make the daughter squirm a little I fell painfully silent.
“Dad — DAD — will you please watch the girls?”
“Heck yeh, we’ll watch the girls!” I said. “This’ll be the best part of our summer! And we are going to spoil them rotten, so don’t even think about giving us a list of do’s and don’ts. When you get them back they won’t even be recognizable what with their temporary tattoos, and their addiction to popsicles.”
“Oh thanks, Dad!!” the daughter said, elated that her dream trip was a go.
Additional planning needed to be done on our part to make the grandparental switch mid-trip. So the wife searched online for a suitable destination somewhere between Ohio and South Carolina for the grandparents to meet. Chattanooga, Tennessee, was selected, a vacation home secured, and an itinerary of touristy attractions booked.
Our days in Ohio with the granddaughters were filled with all sorts of activities including lots of swimming, hiking, bike riding and multiple trips to the ice cream shop.
Then came the Chattanooga portion of the visit. Now here’s a question for you, my readers: How many of you have vacationed with your children’s in-laws? I would venture a guess, not many. But the wife and I are blessed to have great folks in the daughter’s in-law’s, who are lots of fun and were up for all of the touristy things we planned to do.
Now I don’t know about you, but for years I have been inclined to experience the Inclined Railroad up Lookout Mountain. And who in their right mind doesn’t want to “See Rock City?” Then there’s Ruby, a woman who apparently had some balance issues because she fell in Ruby Falls.
It’s a challenge to entertain young girls and 65-year-old adults. But these tourist destinations in Chattanooga were just the ticket.
“Silly papa,” my oldest granddaughter said, “How in the world are you going to fit through ‘Fat Man Squeeze?’” as we entered a narrow crevice in Rock City.
Sucking in my gut I said, “Don’t worry, honey. I brought a stick of butter in case I get stuck.”
Concerned about the outcome of this situation my youngest granddaughter said, “Just in case that happens, I’m going first. I don’t want to be late to see Ruby fall.”
The daughter’s 15th anniversary was a win-win. She and the son-in-law had a wonderful anniversary, and all the grandparents got some quality time with the granddaughters.
On a related note, I do kind of feel bad for Ruby, though.
Raul Ascunce is a columnist for the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, a sister paper to The Lima News within AIM Media Midwest.