Monday, April 5, 2010

Vacations Sure Are Different with a 3-Year-Old

We're on vacation. Yes, 10 days of what sounded like bliss…skiing in Vail with my family, visiting good friends in Denver, time off, etc. But, here we are…nothing ever works out exactly as you plan. First, my child was a NIGHTMARE (and, yes, I meant to capitalize that word) on the airplane. You know the people that you look at and think "get a grip on your kid." Well, that was us. No nap, a tantrum, refusing a movie, coloring, toys, snacks, until she had a total fit over the M&Ms and took off her shoe and threw it while kicking the airplane seat in front of us. Yes, that was us. We arrived in the Denver airport to all of us crying (Ok, well, Jason wasn't crying, but he could have he was so mad). Next, Jason's temporary crown fell off his tooth (we jokingly keep saying his tooth fell out of his head) and then, he stepped out of the SUV we rented and turned his ankle on the first day we were here. No skiing for him and a trip to an emergency dentist.  Really?

It took awhile, but we finally have settled in. Got past the "this is life" feeling, got some sleep, let some time pass and now we are having some fun. I tell you all this, because well, you may have been here before and if so, please share. I was so distressed by all of this that I thought "we are never going on vacation again." But do you know what happened? Two things: Jason got a haircut and we sat at the bottom of Vail Mountain for an afternoon.

Jason's Haircut
Why in the heck would Jason getting a haircut matter? Well, as described above we had a few rough days and nights at the beginning of the trip. Jason and I were at our wits end. But when we got to Denver to see Dana and Barry, Jason decided he really needed a haircut. There was just not enough time before we left. When he came home from his haircut, he had a different sense about him. He told me that the woman who cut his hair was young, about our age (yes, I still try to call us young) and nice. She did a good job with his haircut. But, what had impacted him was their conversation. While he was in the chair he noticed she had a picture of a little girl on her mirror. Jason had already told her about us being out here to teach our 3-year-old daughter to ski. When he asked about her child, who looked about six or seven, she said that yes, she had a daughter, but she had died. It took Jason's breath away. He didn't know what to say. They went on to talk about the situation. She and her daughter had been in a car accident and her daughter had been injured -- a hole in her heart -- and they couldn't save her. The hairdresser wasn't injured at all. She said how horrible it was to live beyond your children and how much guilt there is with living when you're child dies. I know Jason offered his condolences. But, what a terrible story. Jason told me this and then looked at me and said "Shelly, there is a reason my path was supposed to cross hers today. The timing was right." He was right, it made all the stress of our travel and Sydney's behavior seem so small and silly in comparison.

The Bottom of the Hill
On that same note, today Jason and I watched a man in a wheelchair get himself into a very cool ski contraption in order to go skiing. He had to slowly move his way into this chair and use poles with skis on them to maneuver. He had to pick up each leg separately and move it into the chair, clearly having no feeling in his legs. It was amazing and I said to Jason "Now that is dedication and not letting anything stop you." We had just gotten done talking about how much work it was to get Sydney dressed and ready for skiing, then schlep down to the slopes with all her stuff, make sure we didn't leave anything behind and Jason and I weren't even skiing. All that work, slugging of equipment, etc. didn't seem to matter anymore. Here was someone who had it even harder and was not complaining, but getting out there and doing something so difficult. Inspirational, I tell you. Very inspirational.

Enough sappiness for now. My point, vacations are very difficult and very hard, but still a joy of time with your family.  Off to see if my child is passed out from learning to ski. Wishing you the courage and wisdom to be a no guilt mommy. I know I am still searching.


  1. Shelly - thanks for being so real and capturing the truth about parenting...its big and small and screams and perspective. Feeling lucky and insane all in one day. Jack (3 in May) grabbed my face in his hands and got really close last night while reading books - he said: I'm happy Mommy, and you're happy and Daddy's happy and James is happy. I almost floated away. This morning he said - Mommy you make me sick when I wouldn't give him an easter egg before breakfast...ahh, yes the contrast. We're the ones getting on the plane next...scary!!!

  2. Okay, here's my Denver horror ski trip story and I warn you, it's a bit gross. Staying at this deluxe condo in Keystone with all new white (can you believe it, white?!) carpet. Arielle has a 102-degree fever and I give her liquid children's Tylenol (yep, the cherry red kind) and try to rock her to sleep in my lap. She soon sits straight up and barfs the cough syrup all over the white carpet. I could not get it out! Think we ended up paying a damages fine. Fast forward to a year later. Flying back from Denver on the red eye. This time Adrian is the sick one and he's sleeping in Mike's lap on the plane. It's about midnight. Mike's wearing this big, thick wool ski sweater and has the window seat on a crowded flight. He can't move and his son is sleeping on top of him, except when he wakes up to--you guessed it--throw up all over his dad, then fall promptly back to sleep. Mike sat there with puke seeping into his wool sweater and let his son sleep. You have fun and you'll look back on these trips and laugh one day like we now can!

  3. You guys are awesome! What great stories. Laurie, I love how quickly they can love and hate us:) and Claudia, well, i'm feeling pretty lucky right now not to have a sick kid. Because yes, that could be way worse as you and Mike experienced. Oh, these days we will remember!

  4. ah yes, vacationing with kids. Not always fun. I remember when the first time we took Cameron to Colorado he was about 8 months. We gave him benedryl in hopes that he would be "sleepy" on the flight. Um, it backfired. He cried the whole flight because he was overtired and jacked up! I had to walk him up and down the narrow isle just to keep the person next to us from going crazy. It was lovely. So unpredictable the wee ones can be-makes it so fun for us parents.
    I hate what happened to Jason! Poor guy. Amazing though, how everything got put into perspective with the haircut and the wheelchair skier. Hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip~