So often you see an event or a movie advertised as “fun for the whole family.”
They lie! There is no such thing as one thing that the entire family will enjoy.
We’ve been plotting out some summer travels recently, trying to find magical places that will enchant everyone in our family, from the 8-year-old girl through the 13- and 14-year-old teen girls and even our 20-year-old adult daughter. In an ideal world, their parents in their mid-40s would enjoy it too.
Dare to dream, America.
There are too many factions to make anything unanimous. We’re not exactly a democracy, but we found one child angry enough to protest can really mess up an otherwise good time.
Most people in the family vote for going shopping for clothes, but the youngest vehemently votes no. (Dad abstains.) Some people really like amusement parks, but Mom doesn’t enjoy them. (Dad abstains.) Children’s museums used to be quite popular, but the oldest girl rolls her eyes. (Dad abstains.)
Most of us really enjoy going to sporting events, whether it’s a baseball game or a football game, but several of the youngest are bored to death by it. (Dad says he doesn’t care; we’re going anyway.)
Because of that, it takes some politicking to get what you want. For a trip to Chicago, my wife became obsessed with touring the iconic Wrigley Field. She worked the room like a seasoned legislator, first building her base with our Cubs-obsessed 14-year-old and me. Then she started working on the others.
She drew the attention of the youngest by saying she could see the ivy wall she’d seen on TV. I suspect she drew the interest of the 13- and 20-year-olds when she suggested we might bump into athletic guys in a baseball cap during the tour. It was unanimous, and the motion passed.
The dream of a vacation and the reality of it can be so different. You always go into them thinking about all the good times you had in the past. Once you’re in the midst of them, you remember that spending that much time with anyone, even people you love, can be exhausting and frustrating.
Frankly, that’s affected how we’re using our vacation time this year. For years, we took the week of Memorial Day off from work for a voyage right after school let out to go some far-flung place. This year, we’re keeping our time together down to three days at a time with shorter trips.
I don’t know how many vacations we have left where all six of us will be together. Our oldest is already planning some trips of her own, going places that interest her on her own. I was about her age when I started going places with my friends instead of my family. That’s a natural thing, a progression just as expected as getting taller, older and wiser.
Still, we’ll try to sneak in at least one more family trip together. It may not be fun for the whole family, but at least it’s the whole family. You’ll never know when that last trip was until it passed you by.