The night before

We’d been talking about going to Oregon for months. Nary a day, or at least a week, would go by without some mention from one of the boys about ‘when are we going to Oregon’ or ‘when we go to Oregon can we……’. The destination consistently pronounced as organ by each of the boys. Once school was out and the trip to the beach loomed on the [practically visible] horizon, the excitement – and the questions – began to multiply. There were packing lists and questions about taking guitars and requests for individual suitcases rather than my all-clothes-in-one-bag system. ‘How many more days until we go to Oregon,’ was asked on a daily basis.

Because when you’re a kid, you can dedicate all of your cerebral matter to focus on just one thing. A vacation – really, the thinking about it – becomes your raison d’etre. Compared to when you’re an adult and a vacation becomes just another time-sensitive, to-do list of monolithic proportions: must buy shorts for the boys, must return library books, must find things to do in Oregon, must harvest the copious amounts of spinach in the garden box, must pack, must buy food, must get new tires, must clean out the washing machine agitator and the top of the dryer, must eject the 8 chicken carcasses taking up valuable real estate in my dorm-sized freezer.

‘Getting ready to leave for a trip is no fun when you’re a parent,’ I lamented to the professor the night before we left, as we were packing and doing laundry after the clock had struck 1 and I still had 6 hours’ worth of work to do before we could jump in the overflowing minivan.

‘We do it for them,’ he sighed-reminded. Which is of course true. While we entertain thoughts about relaxing and reading books, writing daily blog posts and going for long walks, a vacation is ultimately a 90-10 proposition at the best of times. Ninety percent for the kids and (hopefully, if everything goes according to plan) ten percent for the adults; its overriding purpose to make memories that remain etched in the minds of our offspring long after those precious 10 days are up.

‘Remember when we drove and it was all smoky from the forest fires, ‘remember when we jumped on the trampoline with those boys,’ ‘remember when we went to Oregon and stayed at that house by the beach…’

‘Remember when’ is the parents’ reward.

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Watch out Oregon, the Johnsons are coming. 

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