My brother and I are 2 1/2 years apart. I’m the oldest. I’ve always been the most serious. The worrier. The good kid who never got into any trouble. The thinks-too-much-about-everything sister. My brother has always been the happy-go-lucky sibling. The most relaxed. The kid everyone liked. The kid who did a lot of dumb things but somehow rarely got caught.
I suppose, then, it’s no surprise that he eventually ended up in laid-back Austin and I ended up living a few miles from eternally amped-up New York City. Our personalities match the places we call home.
I came to this realization the other day when I was combing through the photos I took during our recent travels to England and France. It turns out I’ve amassed an eclectic collection of gargoyle portraits . I think the old art history major in me – the one who was obsessed with medieval art and architecture – is feeling nostalgic.
Our family loves to travel. Everyone except Sophie, that is. For her, the ideal voyage is the trip from her bedroom to the kitchen downstairs. I, on the other hand, live for travel. In fact, I believe I suffer a moderate to severe case of travel addiction. As soon as we return from a vacation, I feel an uncontrollable urge to plan the next one. It sometimes feels like an illness.
The last part of our trip was devoted to the Utah desert in all its glory.As I mentioned in my last post, it was as hot as Hades in Moab.So we did what all of the locals and tourists do.We woke up early every morning, much to Sophie’s chagrin.Comments like, “Mom! Why are you doing this to me?”“Why are you torturing me? ” “This is not a vacation!” were inevitably accompanied by cold hard stares, harumpfs and groans.
Where are all the cars? We’ve driven hundreds of miles since leaving Las Vegas eight days ago. Yet despite the fact that summer is the busiest time of year for the national parks we’ve visited, the lack of traffic on the roads is astounding. Actually, my use of the word “traffic” here is entirely misleading. Because there is NO traffic, at least not in the “Cross-Bronx-Expressway-is-a-parking-lot-with-bumper-to-bumper-traffic-again-They-should-just-bomb-this-road-into-oblivion” way. We arrived in Moab today and it has the first traffic lights we’ve seen since Las Vegas on July 6. I am not lying.
As we prepare to leave for our next adventure to the Utah national parks (with a detour to the Grand Canyon-North Rim), I’ve had an epiphany. I now know why I am always so excited to arrive at our destination. Our arrival signifies that we have survived the frenzy of vacation preparation which, in our house, goes something like this:
(1) My husband and I yell at the kids to start packing their suitcases. We then yell at each other for yelling at the kids. This vicious cycle continues for at least 24-48 hours and we all lose our voices. And yet Chloe still manages to forget a few things. And then she blames us. Because we yelled too much and she couldn’t concentrate on her packing.
As Chloe exclaimed several dozen times during our recent trip together, “London is awesome!” Indeed, London was awesome. But London isn’t awesome simply by virtue of the fact that it exists. Our trip was great in Chloe’s eyes because she experienced almost everything she wanted to experience. Which had everything to do with research and planning before we boarded the plane.
So, for those of you who would like to take a special parent-child trip with your teenager, here are some tips to ensure your experience is as memorable as ours.
Our wonderful exploration of London comes to an end tomorrow. The time passed too quickly, as time so teasingly does when one is one vacation. It’s been a fantastic trip. Mostly because I was able to spend so much quality time with Chloe and to enjoy the city through her observant and wry lens. I’ll write more about the mother-daughter aspect of the trip in my next blog post, once we’ve returned home. In the meantime, here are some final highlights. And for anyone considering a similar trip to London or Paris with their kids, I’m available to create custom itineraries for a modest fee – feel free to spread the word (my anal-retentive attention to detail ensures you won’t be disappointed).
Chloe is still having an amazing time in London. The trip has been so amazing, in fact, that when her iPod Touch went permanently missing last evening (we think it might have been kidnapped), she managed to stay astonishingly calm despite the huge disappointment of losing her electronic link to the outside world. I attribute her level-headedness to the fact that we have seen so many wonderful things over the last three days that the loss of her gadget has not been as traumatic as it would have otherwise been. What are those wonderful things, you ask? Read on.