Vacation from parents

Barely waiting for the car to stop, the grandchildren threw off their seat belts, raced up the steps and burst into their St. Louis home. They had a hundred stories to tell their mother Joy about our trip. Sophie, 10; Sam, 8; and Henry, 5, had accompanied us to visit relatives in Indiana and Michigan. We included a couple fun side trips just for them.

“Lake Michigan is a lot better than an ocean,” Sophie announced. Water time pleases her. The bonus of Lake Michigan comes with its miles and miles of dunes on the eastern shore. Lake adventures come free of sharks, jelly fish, sea shells, kelp or salt water drying on the skin. “I went out until the water was up to my neck,” she grinned remembering small waves crashing gently over her head.

As she told talked about the lake, Sam chimed in, “I made a sand fort.” Henry waved his hands for attention to tell about playing in the sand and waves.

“We ate out almost all the time!” Sophie announced with astonishment. Hmm, I had not realized that, but she was right. No sandwiches in the car. We began with a restaurant located along Route 66. Picky eater Sam did not live up to his name that night or any other.

“Where did the green beans go?” I looked at him in astonishment.

“Into the black hole,” he grinned.

A couple minutes later, I turned from a conversation and his meatloaf had disappeared, “Where?!”

“Black hole.”

“Mashed potatoes?”

“Black hole,” he assured me.

He told his mom about his new black hole and his sister interrupted, “We ate on the floor in the hotel!”

“There are not a lot of tables in hotel rooms,” their mom observed.

“Mom! Mom! Mom!” Henry bounced up and down, “Look at my race track. The cars can bud.”

(Bud? He had repeatedly used that word in the van after he chose to spend the money he earned with his “good behavior on the trip” cash. I think he meant bump.) “Can I take it out of the box? Can I?”

“Just a minute,” his mom said. “Let’s get everything inside first and I want to show you the school supplies and clothes.”

“School supplies!” Sophie’s eyes lit up. “Where?”

Before mom could answer her, Sam pulled out a couple little toy men. He knew exactly what he wanted as an award. Every time we suggested other items, he said, “I am saving my money” until he found the men.

Ignoring him, Sophie peeked at the bags of school supplies, “I have shoes?!”

“Right there, but just a minute before you take the bags apart,” Joy cautioned as they dropped everything and began reaching for the bags of crayons, notebooks and new shoes.

The tidy house exploded with energy, tales of swimming at the hotel pool, and studying maps – a skill Sam discovered after he asked his grandfather, “How much further do we have to go?”

To his mom he announced, “I found St. Louis in Michigan and Missouri on the map.” While the others swam for a couple hours at the hotel, he studied the atlas and found places his Uncle Mark suggested. His map skills soared during our short trip.

Once the energy of reporting slowed, Henry set up his race track as Sophie concluded that the trip was, “our vacation from our parents or maybe it was our parents’ vacation from us.” Whichever, we returned in time for the first day of school so the grandchildren can rush home to tell their mom everything at once about that first day back.

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