My Vacation Check-list

We are just back from a family vacation, which of course is an oxymoron as I have previously pointed out.  I am at no time more insane than when I am in travel preparation mode.  Generally speaking in our house, if there is to be any kind of organization, planning, logistical management, or  simply physical movement of bodies (live ones, to be clear) out of the house to anywhere that is not required by economics or legal strictures, in my mind, it falls to me to make that happen.  While Kevin is excellent at deliberation, deep thinking, brilliant theorizing, internet research, careful consideration of every possibility, and other activities that can be done while reclining, he is not exactly a man of action.  At least that is what I tell myself in my frantic anxiety to leave the house "on time."  If we are going on a trip, he will have input on the front end, deciding where and when we will go a place, but, in my crazy head, we won't actually get there if I don’t go through my massive list of things that are required for us to arrive there, including:

-Make all reservations preferably no less than a month ahead of time because it is possible there will be no hotel rooms or airline tickets left and we will have to hitchhike and sleep in a dumpster
-Water plants that admittedly Kevin would not own in the first place
-Find a dog sitter for a dog that admittedly Kevin would not own in the first place
-Make lists of things
-Freeze stuff
-Acquire enough snacks for the children to eat for several weeks
-Get the oil changed in our car even if we are not driving
-Buy ziplock bags. Put everything in ziplock bags.
-Figure out how to pack all of my things and all the kids’ things in one small bag regardless of whether that is really necessary because Kevin will bring a foot locker for 2 days regardless of whether that is really necessary
-Get a pedicure even if it is winter because someone might see my toes and also because they have a massage chair
-Charge all 17 devices that my children own, each of which have a unique charger and pack all of that
-Remove all my clothes except for two pairs of underwear from my/kids' suitcase so that I can fit in the chargers.  Briefly consider just packing another bag but reject that because.
-Consult Lawson on which stuffed animal/toy/piece of lint or bark is currently vital to his mental health and pack that
-Tell Kevin I have already packed sunscreen. Yes, enough for everyone, don't you trust me?
-Pack 3 bottles of sunscreen that, as it will turn out, are mostly empty
-Inform everyone several days in advance that we are leaving Saturday at 8:15 am, when actually we don't need to leave until 8:30 am
-Reiterate to everyone that we really are leaving Saturday at 8:15 am.  Make vague threats about taking away people’s pieces of lint and sunscreen.
-Start doubling doses of Zoloft several days in advance.  Review lists.  Mentally go over exactly how the car will be loaded. Think of ways to compel the humans to put themselves in the car.
-On D-Day, begin frantically running around the house around 7 am, loading items into the car and asking Kevin, “Can I take this bag?” every 5 minutes.
-Remind all the people that we are leaving at 8:15 am so many times that I forget that we are actually leaving at 8:30 am.
-Start panicking at 8 am because Kevin has not styled his hair which will take more than 15 minutes, and Lawson has still not peed, which takes only 5 seconds but which requires 20 minutes of arguing beforehand
-Remove the children’s devices from their hands and pack them in the suitcase, which is already in the car, with their clothes and the chargers. There isn’t room, so take out all but one set of their clothes, knowing they won’t want to change clothes the entire vacation anyway and you will be too stressed to fight with them.
-Consult all the lists
-At 8:10 am start screaming, “WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!!!” even if we are driving and there is nothing planned at our destination.  Start deep breathing exercises that invariably don’t work.
-Finish loading all items in the car, including Kevin’s bags even though he is still styling his hair with products he presumably will be taking.
-Put the children’s shoes on them.  Physically lift Lawson onto the toilet and threaten catheterization.
-Put the children into the car. Start the car.
-Run through the house screaming some more about “people” being late
-Attempt to wrest Kevin’s comb from him and finish styling his hair.  He is stronger and that doesn’t work.  Try picking him up and carrying him to the car.
-Give up and go and sit in the car with the kids, all seat belts buckled and with the car running. Watch the digital clock on the dashboard click forward to 8:16.  Start breathing into a paper bag and singing Enya songs quietly to myself.
-Watch Kevin emerge from the house and walk toward the car. Temper hope with sure knowledge, learned from experience, that he will turn around and go back into the house at least twice to “check” something.
-Exhale slowly as Kevin enters the car at 8:19 am, his hair looking amazing and all household items “checked.”
-After 2 minutes on the road, realize I forgot to bring extra pairs of my disposable contacts. Kevin offers to turn around, but I tell him it’s OK, I don’t need to see anything, he can just lead me around. What’s important is that we keep to our schedule.
-Think to myself, "You know, I really am not a sane, normal person.  But at least I am punctual."

Needless to say, this is not a relaxing routine for anyone, and it sets the tone for the vacation to follow, which never, ever, ever turns out the way I imagine it will, mainly because the children are never, ever, ever happy.  You think they will be happy because you plan everything with them in mind and go to great lengths in pursuit of their happiness.  But they know that, or they at least sense it.  And children can not let you win, not ever.  So they will be miserable, and they will make everyone within a mile radius miserable, too.  And that, in a nutshell, is what family vacations are all about.


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