So. We are back. Thank God for traveling grace!
This is probably going to be a long, rambling post. Consider yourself warned :)
This year’s vacation was a road trip! My parents drove from Cali to Houston, picked up my niece and nephew (ages 12 and 9) then drove to MS where LG and I joined in the fun. We then drove from Mississippi through Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia to arrive at our destination – McGaheysville, VA.
On our first day’s drive we stopped in Birmingham, strolled around Kelly Ingram Park taking in a bit of civil rights history then went over to the Civil Rights Institute where we happened upon a performance that a theater camp was putting on detailing the civil rights era. Let me tell you something – those kids were phenomenal. They ranged in age from 10 to high school seniors and they were a talented bunch. I couldn’t believe that they’d only put in two weeks of work for their show. They’ve been received so well that the Civil Rights Institute has requested they perform throughout the summer and not just for the week-long run they’d originally scheduled. I wish I could remember the name of the group, but if you are going to be in/near Birmingham this summer, I strongly suggest you catch one of their performances at the Institute – and it was free :)
We spent the first night in Knoxville, TN then drove another six hours to our vacation destination.
McGaheysville, VA is home to the Massanutten vacation resort and is where we spent a week in chill (mostly) mode.I thought Massanutten was absolutely gorgeous. I’d never been in the mountains of Virginia before and everything was so green, so lush, just idyllic. There were deer bouncing around and fat little groundhogs chilling everywhere. The thing I didn’t like was that everything cost. And I mean everything. I wish I’d been better prepared for that. I knew it, but I didn’t know it, know it. The kids went to the waterpark, we all ziplined, they went “mining” for gems. There were a bunch of other activities to participate in, but we didn’t because like I said – they cost and with three kids those costs add up quickly! If I were to go back, I’d definitely budget differently. I’d love to tube down the river and maybe go horseback riding.
We spent a day in D.C. and it was crazy. I should’ve planned better. We toured the Capitol building. Then walked to the White House and the MLK memorial. Those three things – plus a brief detour for lunch at the world’s most hood McDonald’s (security with a gun AND a bullet proof vest?!?!) – took us ALL day. I don’t know how that happened, but I’ll take the charge for it. We got in at least 12 miles. By the time we made it to the Smithsonian? They were closed. And I was really hoping that we’d be able to pop in to at least two of them. Oh well…moving on.
The rest of our time was spent on the grounds, at a group dinner (there were 32 people in our group with all the cousins, in-laws, family friends, etc.), and at the African American Day in Harrisonburg, VA which we hit up on our way back home.
My next vacation? I want to relax. This was a do your own cooking/laundry type deal and I don’t want to cook, do dishes, or laundry on my next vacation. I want to lay around, do the activities I want to do, and leave the chores at the house! The cousin who organizes these trips (same group we went to Spain with) is vehemently opposed to cruises. And while I get her arguments against them (and even agree with some of them) I think for a group as varied as we are, a cruise would be a good, relaxing choice. We shall see….
On the way back to Mississippi we stopped at Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain. Absolutely breathtaking. Ruby Falls is an underground cave that just so happens to have a waterfall in it. Lookout Mountain – specifically Rock City – was once a private garden that’s been open to the public for years. I know a garden doesn’t seem particularly spectacular, but it was. It’s huge, has all sorts of paths, caves, sculpture, and greenery and from the top? You can see seven states – NC, SC, AL, GA, TN, VA, KY. I didn’t even know such a place existed and I’m so glad we stopped to see both of these points of interest.
Now. Let’s talk about the dynamics of vacationing with one’s parents, child, niece and nephew. Whew! My parents are not used to kids and the kids are not used to my parents. I felt a little trapped in the middle because I’m used to both of them :)
My parents? They fuss. A lot. And I really didn’t want to hear all of that on vacation. There’s a lot to be said for correction. But not all the time. My mom was all “well, they’re way different than y’all were as kids.” Well, of course they are. They’re being raised by different parents in different times. We were different kids than our parents were but I don’t remember my grandmothers fussing at us like that.
In my parents defense, they haven’t had kids at home for a long time. They are used to getting up and going on their own schedule and not dealing with the mess and noise that kids create. And I get that. Look forward to it. But for the next decade or so? It is what it is.
Last night at dinner my mom told me there were some things I need to work on as it relates to raising LG. LG is too soft, has too many options, I’m not consistent enough, and I explain too much to her. And here I was thinking Smoochy was the lenient parent -_-
LG is kinda soft. She’s a sensitive kid. She doesn’t have siblings so she’s not used to that dynamic and when she’s teased she cries. Smoochy and I have talked to her about this. “You can’t take what people say to heart, stop crying, tease back, you have to decide for yourself that you’re not going to let things bother you, etc., etc.” I really don’t know what else to do. I don’t want her to think there’s anything wrong with being a little sensitive – I have those tendencies myself – but I do know that she can’t cry every.single.time. she’s upset. She cried nearly every day in K and 1st grade. We’ve made GREAT progress. We still have work to do. I think she’ll grow out of it.
And yeah, I need to be more consistent with her. Been working on that.
But. (You knew there was a but coming, yes?) I deliberately try to be…softer with LG than my parents were with us. I remember feeling tense a lot as a kid. My dad in particular is very critical and I never thought anything I did was good enough. I want LG to feel and know that she is good enough. Always. So maybe I err in being too accepting of what she does. I don’t know. Yes, we have standards and expectations of her but I refuse to flip out over every single thing she does or to stress myself or her out on a regular basis.
I told my mom I was trying to find a balance between being so critical and uptight and being overly lenient. She told me I’m not there yet. Sigh.
Talked to Smoochy about it. He basically said that our parents raised us well, but that we are not perfect and that we will all raise our kids well and they won’t be perfect either. Pretty much Smoochy, pretty much.
Anyhoo, all in all we had a good time. I’m glad we had this experience. And next time? We need separate lodging!
Do you vacation with your parents and children/nieces/nephews? Do you parent the same way your parents did? What do you/will you do with your children that’s similar/different than what your parents did with you?
(Photo dump tomorrow)