We took our kids to South Bend, Indiana this weekend to see Notre Dame (go Irish!) play Navy. It’s always a good game to take kids–respect! honor! tradition! a flyover!–but it’s also an incredibly intense weekend: we drive out early on Friday from our home here in Pennsylvania, pack in some activities that night, spend most of the day Saturday on the go, and then try to pack in a bit more before we drive home Sunday. We’ve never done it with all three children before.
We would be traveling with my mom, and meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law, who were driving in from Wisconsin. People thought we were nuts. I’m not even going to wager a guess as to what my bro and his wife were bracing themselves for. Thank God for sibling love.
And even though we knew we were supposed to be nuts, we had absolutely no expectations going into this trip: on one hand, the kids have become really good travelers (well, SK and Quinn have always been, and Cian suddenly has done a 180 and seems intent on outdoing even them), but we all know bets are off when bedtimes are late and bodies are exhausted (the kids’, too, of course. Har). But then a magical thing happened: they surprised us. Like, completely and totally outdid themselves, endurance- and behavior-wise. I can’t even type this without wanting to go, “What?! It was really that EASY?”
- eight hours and forty-five minutes in the car with only one stop on Friday. Lots of snacks, a couple of DVDs, and plenty of chit-chatting happened, but I don’t get it. They were having a BLAST. They didn’t ask to get out once. So we didn’t (are you judging us?).
- Dinner at a local pizza joint at 8:30 that night after drowning in the sea of blue-and-green-garbed people packing the bookstore (at home, the kids would have been fast asleep by then). They did it. I can’t even.
- Saturday, a full day of tailgating, a football game, mass after the football game (because like all good Catholics, we wanted to “get it out of the way.” Ahem), then dinner at a place on campus. We walked out of the restaurant at 10:15 p.m. The girls were skipping. Skipping. I don’t understand.
- A packed Sunday morning with more sightseeing, a visit to the grotto on campus, with a long wait and breakfast before even that. Then we dragged them on another long ride home and managed to make it in nine hours (with just two stops, and that’s because the grown-ups wanted coffee). The kids were amazing. Pleasant. Chatty. Totally thrilled to have this adventure. Then they woke up on Monday morning happy and ready to face another day (that last part makes me a bit jealous. Where do they get the stamina? At what point do grown-ups stop feeling excited to greet a new day, and how can we get that back?).
There was some yucky stuff of course, too, of course. A couple incidents of barfing (both Quinn: one from car sickness, one from too many Cheetos mixed with a pumpkin cookie and Dippin’ Dots. Stop judging me), some vaguely mild spouse squabbling over directions and discipline and what to do about dinner (David and I, like many couples who’ve been together 14 years or so, have turned this into an art, to the potential dismay of the people stuck in the car with us). Middle of the night freaking out because a coyote attacked an animal outside our bedroom window (those of us who live in PA subdivisions are happily unaccustomed to such terrible, terrible noises). A bookstore bill that ran a little too high because I just had to get that cute cell phone cover, among other things. But little stuff. Everyday stuff (well, except for the puking and wild-animal-eating. Other than that).
I can’t even be sarcastic about this trip. I can’t be vent-y, or whine-y, or self-deprecating. It was really that wonderful. Easy.
I joked on my Facebook page that it would be in the kids’ best interests this year to ask for a couple of ponies for Christmas because they were THAT good.
It’s kind of fun, running into an adventure without any preconceived notions of how it’s going to go. It’s even more fun when having no expectations results in an outcome that’s pretty danged fabulous. I need to remember that, I think, as I continue to delve into the other aspects of my life: book-writing. Child-raising. Husband-loving.
No over-thinking. No rigid rules. No ideas of how something “should” happen. Let’s try it out and see what life brings us, shall we? I’ll go first.
But I have it easy. The kids are leading my way.