Ultimate Spring Break—Kids Gone Wild
This is not the Spring Break of your college days
Before you have children, Spring Break represents a time off from work or studies; an opportunity to get obliterated in Cancun; or at the very least an excuse to chill out in front of the TV with a bowl of Marshmallow Peeps and four hours of Charlton Heston.
Once you have children, however, there is the Spring Break of your fantasies and there is Spring Break in actuality. Guess which one more resembles a Griswald family vacation?
When I think back to vacations I took with my family as a kid, I’m sorry to admit that my memories are populated more by the drama than the fun. And now that I have my own family, I worry that such skewed memories are inevitable for my own kids—no matter how hard I try to break the chain.
I can’t pretend that I have ever approached Spring Break with my children with fervor. When I was a stay-at-home mom in New Jersey, the 10 days of Spring Break seemed like an eternity to me. I already had my kids all to myself five days a week, 24 hours a day. Who is Spring Break a vacation for? My kids maybe; or their teachers. But for stay-at-home parents, Spring Break is a euphemism for over time.
In Israel, where I live now, Spring Break is unbelievably longer than it was in the States. Imagine Christmas Break without Christmas and with lots of constipation thanks to eight days of matzah. And since our family is without the funds to pack our bags and head off to a chateau in France or to the beaches in Thailand like the wealthier Israeli families might, our vacation was a stay-cation.
Trying to stay positive, I maintained a vision that the three weeks ahead of us would include time to bond, a chance to veer away nfrom weekday schedules, and an invitation to explore the land and local attractions. My husband and I planned a full itinerary, including both travel and downtime, both education—AND action-packed adventures throughout Central and Northern Israel: Trips to the beach just north of Tel Aviv, a visit to a playground with dangerously high slides, and a barbecue with friends in fields overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
But, each day trip was an experiment in patience and tolerance for all parties, with a clear split between the aggravated parents in the front seat and the warring siblings in the back seat of the car. Avidly opposed to portable DVD players (but a reluctant owner of one), I found myself relenting more and more to Scooby Doo cartoons. I gave up pointing out the majestic scenery and instead settled for half-smiling photos at scenic stops. At one point, I asked my husband, “How did we get here? What happened to the cultured, civilized, worldy children we planned on raising?”
“We sacrificed sophistication for sanity,” he replied.
He’s right. The DVD player allows us to enjoy the view, as well as a quiet conversation or two. Which means I’m not yelling as much as my parents did from the front seat. See? I am breaking the vicious cycle.
Plus, aren’t road trips squashed in the back seat with your brother and sister a childhood rite of passage? See? I am providing my children with memorable experiences.
On second thought, perhaps the three weeks of what’s called “Passover Break” here was not as hellish as I originally thought. For sure it was no “Girls Gone Wild—Ultimate Spring Break,” but it wasn’t 40 years wandering in the desert either.
And, if nothing else, we have the pictures to prove it.