No Permanent Vacation

Permanent Vacation - JerusalemAerosmith has a song and album called Permanent Vacation. I never heard the song but liked a couple songs off the album, particularly Angel. However, it’s the title of the album, Permanent Vacation, which intrigues me.

In August, my family and I took a nearly two-week vacation to Israel. The trip was part of the celebration of BR’s Bar Mitzvah. As you can imagine, such a trip took a good deal of planning. Thanks Mrs. MMK – yes she did the mass majority of the planning.

Anyway, as excited as I was for the trip, I had a nagging feeling that it was too short. After all, while Israel is a small country, there were many things to see. How could we hope to see all of the country, or even a lot of it, in such a short time?

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No Fear of Flying

I have been fortunate to be a part of a writer’s group that includes good writers and even better people. Today is the first of a three part series featuring the other members of my writing group.

Ronit, the LA lady, is the first up. For the past eight years, Ronit Fried-Mershon has been a stay at home mom in New Jersey. Prior to that she toiled as a television producer where she covered several stories of unruly fliers.

Whenever Ronit returns from a visit to LA, we know we are in for some hilarity, but we don’t know who the famous, nearly famous or connected person she will bump into. In addition, she has the best reading voice which can make characters and scenes come alive. I wish she could read this piece to you. Oh well – I am sure you will enjoy it either way.

Perhaps you recognize me. I am a parent who flies with her children – three of them in fact – across the country, several times a year. And you are someone who falls into one of two categories: The
Sympathizer i.e. You’ve been there, have kids, know what it’s like to fly with kids, and happen to like kids…or you are The Hater i.e. You hate kids, hate people who fly with kids and can’t believe you are a flying on an airline that actually allows children on its aircraft. But if you are reading this I presume you are a member of the former category.

The trick is to load up their backpacks with DVDs, handheld gaming devices, iPods, etc. Happy to have a long stretch of time to hone their hand-eye coordination courtesy of the Super Mario Brothers, and nobody telling them to do homework or chores, the kids bask in the solitude of their video games and movies.

Last year I flew from New York to Los Angeles with not just my three children in tow but also two more boys (ages six and nine). As we boarded the plane the boys quietly took their middle and window seats, settling themselves in with their Nintendo DSs and Leapsters. Along came an older woman to the row, whom I recognized to be some aging c-list actress. She audibly groaned “Oh great. I get to sit next to the kids.” And if that vicious comment were not sufficient, she snidely added, “You boys are gonna behave, aren’t you?”

After she made her obnoxious presumptuous comments, I decided I was going to ensure that her concern would not be the boys sitting next to her, but the offended mother sitting in front of her.

“Look kids, we’re sitting next to a Wicked Witch. Try not to sit too close to her as she might melt you or throw you into her boiling pot of soup,” I said audibly as I pierced my eyes straight into hers.

It is fairly common these days to hear of an unruly passenger/flight attendant/pilot, whose behavior precipitated an unscheduled emergency landing. The alleged perpetrator is ungracefully escorted off the aircraft and forced to find their way back via the confines of a police vehicle and much
ridicule. These alleged perpetrators are almost always of legal voting and drinking age, loud, boisterous and often intoxicated, and sometimes an occasional member of your run-of-the-mill terrorist cell. They are rarely over the age of ten, having consumed nothing more than some artificially-sweetened apple juice or the occasional sip of Coca Cola, and the only cell involved is the one on which they are playing Angry Birds.

I bear no patience for people, who pretend to be adults yet they lack manners to preclude them from thinking before they speak. The comments of this not-so-graciously ageing c-lister were premature.

The flight was uneventful, at best, as all the children were exceedingly well-behaved. The boys sitting beside her did not even get up to use the restroom during the flight. The only disturbance, ironically, came from ageing-c-lister. She spent the majority of the flight sneezing – much to the annoyance of all the other grown up passengers around her, not to mention the two little boys quietly perched beside her.

As we deplaned, the proverbial tail between her legs, ageing c-lister told me how nicely behaved the kids were – something I and all the other passengers seated around me already knew.

“Of course. They’re great kids,” I snapped. I huffed off, leaving her to offend the rest of the deplaning passengers with her endless sneezing.

“Yes they are,” I faintly heard her say.

And perhaps now, those last six hours allowed her to pass into membership of the previously mentioned former category – The Sympathizer.

Amazed N’ Curious Splash N’ Dash

“Look how long this bridge is. Have you guys ever seen such a long bridge?”
“Wow, this is so long.” SJ
“No. Are we still over the water?” BR
“Yup. We are crossing over the Henry Hudson River.”
“Who’s Henry Hudson?” BR
“He was an explorer. You should look him up.”
“This the longest bridge ever.” SJ
“How long is it daddy?” BR
“I don’t know. Look it up. Guys, look to your right. You see New York City? You see the tall buildings?”
“Wow, I can see it. That’s amazing.” SJ
“How far is it to Manhattan from here?”BR
“I don’t know. Look it up.”
Amazed and curious – these are my children.

On Sunday afternoon, we strolled into the Discovery Museum in Connecticut. Well, it looked good on the website. My wife paid the entrance fee – $36 – as I distracted the boys. I hoped it would the rest of the museum was more impressive than the entrance.
Ninety minutes later we left the museum. Amazed, or SJ as I refer to him here, for some reason loved the color house. Curious, or BR as I refer to him here, was fully engaged with the simulated outer space mobility feature.
While my wife and I thought the museum was mediocre at best, the boys were content. And that’s all that matters.
Later, we arrived at the hotel. My children love staying in hotels. I can’t quite pinpoint what it is about hotels they love, but I think amazed and curious are happy to be in a new place. Unfortunately, amazed and curious’ love for hotels does not translate into their care for hotel rooms. In fact, their decibel level and trashing of the room would have made you think that amazed and curious were some pompous rock band or star duo had been the hotel guest and not two young children.
I thought the hotel and room were standard, not memorable.
On Monday morning, we went to a water park. Amazed and curious splashed away for two hours enjoying each of the water attractions.
I thought the water park was a bit small and was disappointed when the children were done after two hours.
Next up was the arcade. Off amazed and curious ran. They spent a good half hour playing games, collecting tickets, and picking out prizes.
As they went along, I questioned, “Don’t you want to try this game, no, do it like this, why don’t you get one big prize? I think you would have more fun if you did.”
Advice not needed.
By 1:30, we were on the road home. Amazed and curious were occupied in a game of seek and find with my wife before eventually employing various electronic devices.
While they were involved with their gadgets, my wife turned to me and asked, “Did you have a good time?”
“The museum was kind of lame, the hotel was okay, the boys were done so quickly at the water park and what is up with those prizes BR picked out. What about you?”
“I really enjoyed getting away.”
“I’m glad. It is nice to get away.”
“Yup. Besides the boys enjoyed it – you know BR actually wanted to go back to the museum, and SJ thought the hotel was awesome.”
“Really? Okay then.”
I’ll take SJ and BR any time. It’s good to be amazed and curious. It’s good to have a great trip.

Vacation Enthusiasm

Vacation is all I ever wanted. Vacation — have to get away.

The Go-Gos

We like to wait till the last week of summer for our vacation. It gives us something to enjoy before the return of the routine. Anyway, my family and I are on vacation at the Jersey Shore (no television cameras in sight).  Family vacations with young children are judged by different standards. Relaxation is out.  Get real. Go, go, go is in. That going has been lots of fun.

I have a confession. Please don’t go to the authorities. My children are destroying our environment. Not very The Lorax of them.

My children are responsible for beach erosion. BR, in particular, is a mobile sandstorm. He, along with his cousin, built a mountain by the ocean. By the time he left the beach he was covered in sand – so much in his ears I don’t know how he heard – and erosion was occurring.

The oceans are receding. And I know why. SJ loves the ocean. He dives into the waves. He ends up swallowing mouthfuls of water (despite my repeated objections).  It leads to him burping like a frat brother and the recession of the seas.

BR wallowed in the sand. He did not care that it got in every crevice of his body. He did not pay any mind to the itchy annoying feeling created when sand sticks to one’s body. When the water came up and knocked down his mountain of sand, BR neither complained nor yelled. He surveyed the situation and moved back further on to the beach. Shovel in hand, he got to work with a smile on his face.

SJ got knocked down and pushed around by the waves. Each time he got back up, turned around, and headed right back in to the water. The salt water swished into his eyes. He squinted his eyes and rubbed them against my shirt (which was also wet). He prepared for the next wave and smiled.

Isn’t youthful enthusiasm great? The children don’t accept no. Whether it’s their creations getting destroyed or their bodies knocked down, they get back up. They don’t allow anything to stop their fun.

Determination, resilience, and joy. Great, isn’t it! I could certainly learn a lesson from my boys’ youthful enthusiasm.

Couldn’t you?