How many adults does it take to replace one mommy for Spring Break? Apparently it takes four. For a few years, Bernie and I have been taking advantage of A-Ma and A-Gong’s time share in Orlando and spirit little boys to warmer climes for theme park adventures. All of the books and my advice-givers tell me to keep things as close to business as usual for our boys; so even though I cannot accompany them to Florida for Spring Break, the annual trip is still a go. Poor Bernie. Traveling with small children is hard enough. Now he has to do it without me commiserating with him about how much we actually loathe traveling, how hours of video games are undoing years of overpriced education, and how next year we’ll plan earlier and do something other than travel to Florida for theme park adventures.
My darling husband, reluctant to leave me alone with Tatum for more than a few days, will deliver the boys into the capable hands of his parents, who will then do a grandparent hand-off mid-week. My parents will chaperone the kids back to Boston at the end of this ten day “vacation” that perhaps no one except for little boys will feel is any sort of “vacation” at all. All of this is very complicated and expensive and required hours on the phone with unsympathetic airline employees who reminded me over and over again about penalties and un-refundability as if the word “unfair” hasn’t really crossed my mind lately.
I have to believe that at least the boys will have fun. Being commissioned to Florida in March may not sound like punishment, but these generous grandparents have had ample grandson quality time, and now we’re asking them to log more hours waiting for Applebee’s beepers, racing to flipping water mammal shows, enduring inevitable meltdowns, and giving piggy-backs. Also, because they’ve spent a lot of time with the grandparents lately, the boys are maybe a bit too comfortable with them. Recently, after A-Ma prepared one of her incredible four-course meals, Brodie mused loudly, “I wish we could have anything NOT Chinese for dinner…” Excellent. Obviously, I’m worried that sending four grandparents to manage Spring Break in my stead isn’t the best thank-you for all of the time they’ve spent here doing laundry and cooking for my (occasionally jerky) children. I only have four more days to knock some good manners into them, but this chemo round has me too pooped to remind them to brush their teeth, much less summon my best mean mommy. At this point, I’m just hoping for good weather.
Grandma and Pop Pop, and A-Ma and A-Gong keep reminding me that this is just another way for them to help, that it will be manageable, that they will have fun. And it’s very possible that everyone could benefit from a bit of sunshine away from The House of Cancer where I live all of the time. I’m looking forward to that for all of them. In spite of my worried ramblings here about ill-behaved children abusing exhausted grandparents, I am really looking forward to ten days without children. TEN DAYS! Bernie and I will be deliciously alone for the first time since The Diagnosis. We’ll probably spend some time discussing how life as we know it has changed, how it takes four adults to manage what we could do last year, and how lucky (and unlucky) we are. But we’ll also gratefully whoo-hoo through our own homespun Spring Break free of Disney lines and spoiled children. Tatum has even traveled from the box to the stand with the hope that being denied a trip to Florida means at least one expensive meal at a proper restaurant. It’s the least we can do; we’re not inviting her next year, either.