Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Break Gone Wild

Yes, it's that time again in Kidletville. Time to stay up late, sleep in, and cause all kinds of mayhem! It's Spring Break and this time, it's two weeks long.

This year, the Kidlet's school switched to a balance calendar which basically shortens summer vacation and tacks that time onto other breaks throughout the year. Hence a two week long break.

Now, in Kidletville, it's not uncommon for the best laid plans to go awry, and this vacation was no exception. It started on the first official day of break. The day Kidlet #1 decided to get in a fight with the ice machine... and lost. Three hours later, with a broken finger, six stitches and a nail bed that was hanging on be a wisp of a thread, the trip to Great Wolf Lodge was scrapped. With no Plan B in place, we set out on a restful week of me playing Sheriff as well as Mayor, throwing around phrases like, "Don't punch your brother in the splint" and "If you had stopped running when I told you, you wouldn't have fallen and your finger wouldn't hurt" and my favorite, "Please put your splint back on before Mayor Mom loses her lunch." (In my defense, this is a pretty gnarly wound!)

I knew, if we didn't do something and fast, things were not going to end well for the entire population. That's when Dear Husband came up with a plan: we're going camping.

Now, it's March and unseasonably cold, so my first response was to grab my VETO stamp and say something eloquent like, "The heck you say." But once he sent me pics of the CABIN we would be staying in, I eased up. But here's the really interesting part. Since we were going to be in the woods surrounded by God's playground, I made a rule. NO ELECTRONICS. FOR ANYONE! (As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I wanted to reach out and grab them and choke them back down. had I, the iPhone/Facebook addict just said that?) Dear Husband, who can take or leave the technological world, quickly agreed.

We decided to break this news to the kids the night before we left. Lord help us if they didn't act like the end of humanity was upon us. It was especially tough for Kidlet #2 who has been a self-proclaimed techno-junkie since he was two. He claimed there was absolutely no way he was going to survive and that he was going to die of boredom. Still, the next afternoon, after we completed our performance at Art Enrichment Camp and collected all of our crafts you actually want to take home, we loaded up the car and set sail for McCormick State Park. Without any electronics for the road.

When we arrived, I wasn't sure what we had gotten ourselves into! I mean, I knew it was a three room cabin, but the bathroom was the same size as my closet, the kitchen sink was about the diameter of a piece of paper and when you pulled out the hide-a-bed, there was no room to walk to the bathroom if you were on the far side of the bed, which I was. In a word, it was tiny. In two words, it was super tiny. And it was all we needed.

Like so many families, we live life on the go and when we're home, we all tend to flee to our own spaces. Sure, we eat dinner together, but most of that conversation revolves around which vegetable Kidlet #1 will or won't eat this week or why Kidlet #2 is anti-chicken, unless they're McDonald's Chicken Nuggets. But in this tiny space, we had no choice but to be fully engaged. We spent the first night playing Go Fish and reading books as a family and laughing so hard at Kidlet #2 diabolical laugh he "Skipped" Dear Husband in Uno.

However, as we were getting ready for bed, I heard the words I had been dreading.

Kidlet #2: This place is cool, but you know what would be more relaxing?
Kidlet #1: What?
Kidlet #2: A TV.
Kidlet #1: Yeah.

I looked at Dear Husband and I'm pretty sure we were thinking the same thing: We could be in trouble.

But here's the weird thing about a techno-detox: The first day is the hardest. The next morning, Dear Husband rounded the Kidlets up and headed for Trail #1 while I whipped up a huge stack of pancakes. When they came back, the food disappeared and the chatter around the table was not about what Skylander they wanted or whose Pokemon had evolved the night before. It was about which trail they should take after breakfast. Kidlet #2, my techno-junkie, had been bitten by the nature bug most of all. He wanted to do five trails, in order, before we left. (For the record, they only made four.) And what was Kidlet #1 doing? Collecting walking sticks for the next hike. Gotta say, it made this Mayor pretty happy.

But it also made me think about my parenting. I realized that, unlike me, the Kidlets have an adventurous spirit. They, like Dear Husband, are natural explores and risk takers. As for me, not so much. Yet I have been charged with the responsibility to raise them not to be the kind of people I think they should be, but the kind of people they are meant to be. I would never want to curb their enthusiasm. So how do I rectify my personality to theirs?

It's not like I can change them, nor would I want to. And it's not like I can make myself into someone I'm not. But I can find compromise and balance with them. I am not an outdoorsy girl. I am a nature girl and yes, there is a difference! An outdoorsy girl likes to hike, bike, boat or climb through the outdoors. A nature girl is the mellow side of that coin. She likes to be surrounded by nature with a book in her hand and the sun beating down on her. Still, would it kill me to hike one of the trails with the residents of Kidletville?

I think, as a parent, that the Kidlets shape my life as much as I shape theirs. Just like I force them to chew with their mouths closed and say thank you, they force me to stop being afraid of adventure. All in all, I think it's a fair trade.

The end of the weekend came and went and the Kidlets are back in school. But for Fall Break, when we head to another park with cabins, I'll make sure to take my hiking boots and splash through the creek and traipse through the mud! Until then, if you're looking for adventure, swing by Kidletville next week when I update up on two new projects we're working on!

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