Over the Hills and Through the Woods
Walking through baggage claim I hear in unison “Mommy!!!!” Jumping into my arms and talking a mile a minute, Little B and the Boy excitedly recant their past week. My parents volunteered to take our kids home with them while my husband and I packed up our house to move. My mom always said she looked forward to the day my kids were old enough for a parent-free summer vacation at grandma’s, but at this moment I’m not sure who is more excited to see me, my kids or my parents!
The Boy flashed his check list of the week’s activities. It had been a busy week! Though the exhaustion was visible on my parent’s faces, as they joined in the story telling, I could see the week at grandma’s was great fun for everyone.
Jumping up and down, the kids rattled off all the things they did: We went swimming! We went fishing! We played miniature golf! And made cupcakes! And went to the fire station! The list went on and on. Of course, a week without parents also meant the kids got to stay up late watching TV, drink soda, eat candy and who knows what other “secret” things they rarely get to do at home.
My mom pointed out it wasn’t all preschool debauchery. She had them write out their own activity lists, she got them to do a few workbook pages, and they did arts and crafts a few times.
The quiet times were the most meaningful to my parents. My dad and son’s “boy’s days” to get the car washed and share “nice conversation” at the local diner. Tea time for the girls. Reading my old children’s books cuddled up at bedtime. Priceless moments for both generations.
For my husband and me, we were able to enjoy a week alone with the baby while we dealt with our movers and tied up loose ends, without the constant need to entertain and tend to the older kids. (The trip actually turned into several weeks, as our move into our new house was delayed longer and longer, and my parents watched the kids yet again while we moved into our new house. Thank God for parents!)
For practical matters, we helped by packing the kids’ carry-ons with books and activities for the flight and provided a list of healthy snacks and dinner recommendations. We also left my parents with a notarized letter, in case of emergency, authorizing them to make medical decisions for our kids on our behalf while the kids were in their care or until we were present or able to make decisions ourselves.
As the trip came to a close we decided we’d repeat the week or two of the kids alone with grandma and grandpa next year. My parents recovered after a few straight days of sleep, but the hole left in all our hearts persisted.
Two sentiments summed up the experience. My son told my dad as we were leaving “Pappa, I wish we could stay here two more weeks so I could have more boys days with you.” And The B told me, “I wish my grandmas were our new neighbors. Then we could see them every day.” That’s what it’s all about.
Do your kids share summer vacations alone with their grandparents? Please share your experiences in the comments below.