Sunday, September 04, 2005

We're not hotel-friendly

I have two things I'd like to blog about tonight, but the second thought is a bit too difficult to put into words without getting myself flamed right out of the blog-world or losing every reader that thinks I'm a good and charitable person. Maybe I'll talk about that tomorrow...we'll see.

So, the topic tonight is being hotel-friendly. To this, I can whole-heartedly say, my family is NOT at this time in our lives. At the risk of making my husband read this and think I'm making light of something that deeply upset me, I want to reiterate here that this is not something I'm real happy about or something for which I'm proud.

This weekend, we had planned to take off to a Family Labor Day camp at a nearby retreat owned by our church's diocese. The camp promised fishing lessons, canoing, nature walks, arts and crafts, and a concert put on by one of my son's favorite musical duos, "Trout Fishing in America." As soon as I read the ad for this retreat, I was in! It sounded perfect for us and child-friendly, even for my busy little toddlerette.

The first snag in our planned trip came when my husband, who has been battling the same cold/sinus infection/possibly walking pneumonia (at this point) became increasingly sick in the days preceding our planned departure. Every day, I'd tell him, "You'd better not be sick for this weekend!" We'd already paid for our rooms and the money was non-refundable. Oh, and I may not have shared with you yet, but we're horrible tightwads and so losing that money would actually bring physical pain to our beings. Honestly, it would!

So, late on Friday, my husband and I reached a compromise he thought he could wing--to not go on Friday night, but instead drive up on Saturday morning. This would mean we'd miss a really cool family luau they were doing, as well as hay rides to see the fireworks. But, my son is terrified of fireworks and so we'd have skipped that anyway. So, we really just missed eating roasted pig. I have no idea what that would do to my current diet anyway, so it seemed like a good deal to me. DaddyCat came home, rested up, and we planned to leave bright and early the next morning.

Only, we didn't set an alarm, and we all slept about an hour later. Oh well, we needed the rest. Right? So, we finally get there and my son and I immediately go on a wonderful nature walk/hike and have a grand old time. The day started off well. We all met back up for lunch and ate and then had a short period of time before our fishing lessons began.

This is where the hotel unfriendliness begins. My kids are TERRORS in a hotel room. It is something about the confined space. I'm not sure. When we went on our trip to Mexico last spring, we were on an every-other-day meltdown schedule. And, when I say meltdown, I do mean meltdown. Melting to the point of my husband and I considering changing flight plans and going home early from our all inclusive/all-the-drinks-you-could-want-all-day vacation. People, this should tell you it was pretty bad, because this MomCat never turn away a pretty margarita beckoning my lips!

It wasn't that different this time, except for the fact that we were only about 40-50 miles from home. So, the prospect of packing up and leaving was really, really REAL, as were the threats that were made to do so.

My son, when shut in a hotel room, acts much like you would expect a wild animal would behave, when suddenly slammed into an unfriendly cage. The child who had just taken a peaceful nature walk with his Mom, was bouncing off the walls (literally), screaming at the top of his lungs, egging his little sister into her high-pitched/glass shattering baby girl screams.

Oh, he was quite nasty too. When his Dad or I begged/threatened for him to stop, swearing upon all we could swear upon at a church camp (actually I said a number of words under my breath that would most certainly have had us evicted on the spot), he laughed and acted even more dastardly. It was as if aliens had abducted my blue-eyed child as we were walking into the hotel room door, leaving me instead with a sassy-tongued, head spinning being. Then, as soon as we'd leave to go do another activity, they'd beam him back down to us and he'd say something sweet like, "Mom, I'm having the BEST time EVER at this place!"

Then, the rains came, which meant WildCat son and I weren't going for fishing lessons. Miss Kitty and fallen asleep in the car on the way to the fishing lessons and so my husband, then getting sicker than a dog again, was stranded in the parking lot in the car with her for more than 30 minutes--her snoozing while he hacked up a lung.

My son and I braved the rain and took off for the main hotel conference area where we did all kinds of arts and crafts, which always makes my crafty-arse happy. But, after a few hours of this, we were ready to do something new. So, we headed back to the room to check on DaddyCat and Miss Kitty.

Well, those darn aliens must been at it again, because the minute we got back in the room, WildCat started in again. When the out-of-control head shaking, arm waving, and generally spastically-bad behavior got too much, I bellowed awful things and cried asking my husband, "What is WRONG with us? Why can't we take a family trip and have FUN like all the other families here? What is WRONG with our family?"

It felt, at the time to me, like any time the four of us were actually ALONE together, and actually had to talk to one another and act like a "real" family, well that's when we came unglued. And its been this way before too--where either my husband and I are bickering fiercely or my son is doing his best imitation of a child possessed by something wickedly wacked. Later, I asked my husband in a more private moment, "Do you remember your family having these kind of meltdowns when you were a kid?" I was hoping for a quick yes to that question. He said, "Well, no...I don't really recall that."

And the sad thing was, when I asked myself that question, my answer was a definite yes. I do remember that. I remember fighting to the point of tears in the car with my sister and my Dad shouting at us that we were going to turn around and go home. I remember my mom's clinched jaw and feeling like there was something wrong with us that we couldn't be like all the OTHER families at Disney World that summer. And I hated it then, but I have to say I hate it even more now.

Somewhere, down the line, I have passed this kind of family vacation on to my kids. And, I want to undo it. I want to start over and show them that we CAN have a great time even in the confines of a hotel room. I couldn't sleep that night after the meltdowns and the horrible way I talked to everyone in my most frustrated moments. I actually thought of a lot of things I could have done to make it better. Games? Why didn't I bring some games? We didn't have a t.v. and there was no entertainment for my six-year-old. What else could he do but make up his own game? It just so happened that the game he made up that weekend was, "Let's See If I Can Make my Mom Have an Aneurysm Today." A game, that I'll have to admit, he came very close to winning.

So, the next time we travel, my goal is to not have that feeling I had that morning after on this trip. That sense of walking out of my hotel with my head hung low and embarrassed when I passed people who stayed around me--certain that they heard me hurl my verbal assaults on my wild and untamed kids. I will try harder to not to lose my cool, to come well-armed with lots of animal-taming equipment, and most of all to always remember that one day I will look back on this time and just be glad I had those two wildcats caged in that hotel room with me, bouncing off the walls and screaming out their lungs. Or, I'll at least be thankful that those pesky aliens gave me back my REAL kids when we got in the car to come home!


Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Awww, I feel for you... And don't worry, your family is no different from any others I know. I remember major brawls within my family, particularly on holidays. You're doing the best you can and it's good that you're thinking about how to make it better.

9:14 AM, September 05, 2005  

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