Roll It Over
Every year we say, “this is the last year,” and then we go back again. But this really is the last one, at least for a while, at least for this particular week. Madison is in third grade next fall and finally too old to pull out of school right after the holiday break. Maybe too old already, but we’ve continued to stick with The Program.
The first installment of this annual family vacation was six years ago, Ava was on the brink of turning 1 and Madison about to turn 3. When we look back at that trip we can't imagine what we were thinking. I remember packing (more like watching Gwen pack) and looking at everything we were bringing and wondering how we were going to be able to get it all from our front door to the car, let alone through the airport and ultimately to our destination. Somehow we made it.
Early years of this trip were all kiddie pools, mid-afternoon naps, strollers, bottles and diapers (regular and swimmy), kids falling asleep at rushed dinners after mild tantrums and having to be carried home. I used to be able to volunteer for nap duty and smoke a Monte #1 and drink a Balashi on the hotel balcony while a little one (or two) slept inside. Before they knew what a cigar was or would have thought to ask. Those days are gone, and so are the Cubanos. The Balashis endure.
It’s been an incredible vacation every year, which is probably why we haven’t stopped going. At nearly 6 and close to 8, Ava and Madison are in that sweet spot between having to have every moment enabled and considering every moment their own. They still look for direction, they still want to talk about what we’re doing and saying, they can carry their own stuff (mostly) and run free, but not too far. I love where we are right now, want to hang onto it, freeze this spot in time and never lose it. But – despite the challenges and rigors of those early editions – I felt that way then too, and it keeps getter better. Just different.
We’re sitting at the gate in the airport as I write, Gwen just took the girls down to get some sandwiches and gum for the flight and the prospect of that innocent little field trip made them bounce around like they were at an amusement park. My parents are already down there, Grandmother too. We’ve been in touch. Dinners are planned, excursions, maybe a round of golf. A week under the sun and on sand in the gentle Aruban breeze is stretching out before us.
This is the last year.