This is the third year in a row that I’ve shipped my two children off to their grandparents for part of their summer vacation. Although this will be their longest trip yet, it will probably be the easiest. On them.
Apparently, they are now old enough to not give a crap about leaving their mother behind.
I started to get an idea of just how little of a crap they would be giving a few weeks ago. Emma was in our bed and the two of us were awake in the middle of the night because her skin was itching after an afternoon spent in a neighbor’s pool. To be clear: I was awake with the kid at about 2am. Her father was fast asleep beside us.
In an effort to soothe her, I started talking about our upcoming vacation plans. ”We leave for Iowa in just a few days,” I whispered as I stroked her hair and held her hands to prevent more scratching.
“You are going on my vacation?” Although we had discussed this part of the plan numerous times, she seemed to require the haze of 2am to pick up on this little detail.
“Yep! I’ll be there with you!” I knew she would be relieved, especially since she sobbed last year when I sent her off.
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“uhh…” She was – well – pissed.
And then she started to cry. ”Why are you coming on my vacation?”
“I’m not going to be there the entire time,” I assured her, hoping that my impending abandonment would calm her. “I just have to take you to Iowa. You can’t fly by yourself!”
“No! Just send Dad then!”
Dad. The same Dad that was literally snoring beside me at 2am in the morning. Parental justice is a bitch. I woke up Dad and made him go get her more lotion. Marital justice is petty like that.
Flash forward a week or so and we’re waking up for the first time in Grandma’s new house. Everyone is asleep but Emma and me. I am awake because Emma is awake and hungry and she needs someone to get her breakfast. As her mother, I happily drag my butt out of bed at not even 7am on vacation so that she can be fed.
“What do you want to eat, Kid?” I ask as we snoop through Grandma’s brand new refrigerator and cupboards.
“Hmmm… looks like we have eggs, fruit, cereal…” I continue opening and shutting dozens of doors.
“Pop Tarts,” she decides.
I check the cupboard that seemed to contain the most amount of food. No Pop Tarts. I go back to surveying the 13 varieties of cereal. “Doesn’t look like Grandma has any Pop Tarts. How about Raisin Bran, Honey Nut Cheerios, or -”
“Yeah, I heard you. We don’t have any Pop Tarts. Do you want some cereal or eggs or -”
“Pop Tarts.” Like she’s two again. Or maybe 16. Or 80 and belligerently senile.
“Emma,” I turn around to face her, “Grandma. doesn’t. have. Pop Tarts.” I’ve found that children are like foreigners and speaking slowly makes it less likely that they will argue with you. I turn back to the cupboards, “besides, you never have Pop Tarts. I’m not sure what makes you think you absolutely have to have them this morning.”
“WHY are you ON my VACATION?” she wailed, her voice filled with as much desperation and helplessness and sense of injustice as a 5 year old can muster.
“WHY are you HERE?”
“Do you think that if I wasn’t hear you’d be eating something else?”
“Yes! I’m on vacation!”
I assured her that she would be eating the same thing for breakfast whether I was there or not. She crawled down from the bar stool and disappeared from the kitchen. She returned a few minutes later with her grandmother in tow.
We had pancakes fresh off the griddle for breakfast.