We had the perfect end-of-summer getaway planned.
My wife and I took a few days off work to bring the children out to Chicago, a city I’ve loved since we visited yearly as children.
We had the perfect excursions planned: A day game at Wrigley Field for my sports-obsessed 11-year-old. A night out to see Hamilton with our musically inclined 17-year-old. A thrilling visit to a climbing wall for our adventurous 9-year-old.
It was going to be amazing. Then real life happened. Our youngest daughter broke her wrist about a week before we left, ending any thrills we might have on tap for her.
When we got to the big city, we found our children were different enough they didn’t all enjoy the same things. Our 11-year-old never got up from her seat at Wrigley Field as the Cubs beat the Brewers, but her sisters couldn’t get away enough. And frankly, once our 17-year-old’s phone mysteriously stopped working, her ability to have fun also had no service.
We walked several miles a day to get around downtown, and they grumbled nearly every step. All they wanted to do was build a Legos set we picked up the first day and swim in the hotel pool.
Frankly, as parents, it got old fast. If we wanted to listen to them bicker and complain, why come all this way? They can fight in the confines of our home.
Then I thought back to my own wonderful childhood memories of this city. I fondly recall going through Chicago, but in hindsight I doubt it was perfect. My parents probably grew tired of hearing us complain. After all, there were seven us, with a large age range when we’d come to visit my grandmother. They probably threatened us into being good, too.
Yet I still remember it fondly. They, too, will probably remember this fondly.
We’re accepting that our 17-year-old’s days of travelling with us are numbered. This might be the last time the whole family does a big trip like this together.
So here’s to all those parents who tried so hard to make a lasting memory for their children this summer. It might not feel perfect at the time, but you probably succeeded more than you know.