Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Horton on Vacation

It’s quiet. My entire family fell asleep within minutes of hitting their pillows. I guess five hours of water play, a sophisticated scavenger hunt, animatronic story-time, and a full-length movie will do that to you.

Why is it when you just start getting into the groove of vacation- do what you want, when you want, all at a leisurely pace- you have to pack up and look forward to the next break?

When I went on vacation as a kid, there were not many choices. Dad decided when we were leaving, and Mom decided what we could pack. On the way, it didn’t matter if you were hot, hungry, thirsty, or your bladder was ready to explode, we would stop when Dad was ready, which usually meant when the gas tank was near empty. Once we arrived, we weren’t able to go anywhere without adult supervision. Our parents determined when and where we would eat and shop.

I am not complaining about our vacations. Our beach vacations were some of the best memories of my childhood. My husband and I have just chosen a different route with our children.

Of course, this is the first family vacation we’ve had since they were very small. At 6 and 8 years old, they are fairly responsible, well-behaved children.

We’ve decided to allow our children to choose some of the non-essential parts of the trip. We do get the final say when it’s requested we visit McDonalds, AGAIN. Since we’re staying at a resort, though, there are a lot of activities to choose from, and naturally all of them cost money. So they’ve had to weigh the options and decide what matters to them most, and how much time they want to spend in each activity.

We’ve split up at times when each child wants different things. (That’s why we only have two children- so we’re not outnumbered.) We’ve taken turns spending time with the kids, so we each have a little “me time.” I’ve been able to read, write, and even hit the fitness center. Then there’s times we all get in our swimwear and stand in an awfully long line and head down a giant water chute in an oversized inner-tube. That’s quality family time right there.

We do have to set boundaries as to the type of decisions our kids are responsible for, and let them know when it’s time to do what they’re told. But we give our kids the opportunity to make more choices so that they feel empowered to make decisions and solve problems. After all, according to Horton, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

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