The first law of vacation: What goes on one, must come back

Categorized as 08/10/09 Goshen News column

“What goes around, comes around.” So goes the law of sowing and reaping. “What goes up must come down.” That’s the law of gravity.

“What goes on vacation must eventually come back.” Rats.

I know, I know. This harsh Monday reality is about as welcome as a kick in the teeth. It’s especially harsh when you’re so relaxed from vacation that you can hardly move, and it is in this most pleasant state in which I find myself.

With my entire family and one of Mr. Schrock’s siblings living out of state, most of our vacations have been spent visiting family and friends. Now, hear me on this. We love our families. We love our friends. We even love visiting them. But a “visiting family” vacation is a whole different animal from the “gawky tourist” kind where you run around with your camera on your neck, buying goofy souvenirs. And we were way on the other side of overdue in needing the “gawky tourist” kind. Thus, after some debate, we decided that this was the year and Branson was the place.

We also decided that renting a condo for the week was in our best interest. The notion of the six of us being wedged into a hotel room the size of a coat closet didn’t sit well with me. Neither did the idea of riding home in six separate vehicles, which is the only possible outcome of that much togetherness.

Imagine our excitement when research yielded the one remaining unit in town that didn’t cost an arm, a leg, and the firstborn. In addition, there was a spectacular view of the Ozark mountains from our deck. Throw in two swimming pools, a washer and dryer, and the fact that it was a mere stone’s throw from Silver Dollar City, and it was the perfect spot.

As you may know, there’s no lack of things to do in Branson. When one of the boys mentioned that he would have plenty to write about in his annual back-to-school essay, I started thinking about what I learned on summer vacation. The following is my own informal back-to-school essay.

First of all, I learned that part of the fun is planning and anticipating it together. We wanted the boys to have a say in what we did. Plus, we were operating on a budget, so after getting everyone’s top must-do lists, I went after the numbers and presented them to the committee for debate. After some discussion, it was brought to the floor for a vote where it passed unanimously with astounding bipartisan unity. It was particularly gratifying to overhear three of the junior senators debating the matter amongst themselves, coming to agreement without the standard blows and arm twisting.

The second big thing I learned was that while the old gray mare ain’t quite what she used to be, she’s still got it, by cracky. This amazing truth was uncovered at Silver Dollar City. While Mr. Schrock staunchly refused to ride anything wilder than the train, stating that the only coasters he would be using were over on the coffee table, I gave in and let the boys hornswoggle me onto two of them.

There is just something highly unnatural about having your feet flipped over your head 5 times in 30 seconds. There really is. Nonetheless, I emerged triumphant, able to walk a straight line and pass the finger-to-nose test with flying colors, all without depositing my lunch down someone else’s neck or on my own shoes. Which, of course, gave me some serious street creds with the offspring.

I also learned that we’re raising a daredevil in diapers. The spinning teacups bored him. The flying elephants were marginally better, but only because they went up. It wasn’t until we got to the flying boats and the baby rollercoaster, both of which stuck him up against my ribs like moss on a log, that he came alive. He giggled. He laughed. He wanted to ride again, and only some quick intervention on my part kept him from stowing away on the next go-round.

I learned that laughing together as a family is a very good thing. The Pierce Arrow show was a highlight for everyone with exceptional music and a hysterical comedian. With one kid giggling at my left shoulder and his brother howling on his, with Mr. Schrock guffawing on my right shoulder and the big kid snorting to his right, it was a wonderful bonding experience.

I learned that boys of all ages love speed, and that they never get tired of doing figure eights on a go-cart track. I learned that you shouldn’t turn your back on a kid in a souvenir shop or he’ll come back with crazy hats and blinkers for his teeth. Worse, he’ll pick up a gizmo with a remote that makes disgusting noises. This will get stuck underneath your chair and will be used against you. Further, I learned that boys (of all ages) think this is highly entertaining.

I learned that a lot of very good things happen on a family vacation and that sometimes the best thing you can do is to pack your bags and head for the hills. I’m so glad we did, and I can’t wait to do it again.

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