Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was The Wonder Years. There was one scene I remember where the main character, Kevin, asks his dad what he does for work. An exasperated, middle-aged man, home from a long day of work is just trying to sit in his favorite chair in front of the TV and read the newspaper answers his adolescent son with sheer exhaustion in his voice, “I get up, fight traffic, get yelled at by my boss, do the same thing every day, fight traffic, then I come home.” I’m paraphrasing since it has been over 20 years since I have seen the show, but I am sure you can imagine how that sounded. The show was also set in the 1960s when enjoying what you did for a living was never a consideration. Work wasn’t exciting, motivating, or something you would look forward to. It was a job to provide for your family that you endured minus your two weeks of vacation every year.
Unless your vacation gets hijacked.
That is what happened to us this year. I made this joke on my social media: “There are vacations. There are stay-cations. There are sickations. We chose the last one this year.” Maybe we didn’t choose it, but it chose us.
Every year my parents invite us down to a local resort to stay with them for a week, so they can see their grandkids for a week. Luckily, for now, my kids need a driver, so my wife and I get to attend too. The resort is great for the kids with a couple of arts-and-crafts sessions a day, lots of swimming, plenty of margaritas and pina coladas for me, and the best buffalo wings for my wife’s money. This is my “two weeks a year” that I look forward to every year; the only week I take time off during the year that is for me and not time off for family events or chauffeuring my kids here or there if they are double booked. It’s not a horrible life, but it isn’t relaxing-by-the-pool-with-a-drink-in-my-hand-for-a-week, typically.
This year was already going to be a little different because my oldest daughter had a hockey tournament scheduled out of town, so we were going to lose half the week anyway. We planned on breaking up the 8 hour drive and do some sightseeing on the way up to keep in step with vacation. At least that was the initial plan.
The vacation hijacking started before vacation even started. It might have actually started with me. A couple of weeks before, a lot of people at my work were sick, I think I became Patient Zero that brought it home to my youngest daughter, who then gave it back to me. Then I think I gave it to my oldest one. Two days before vacation, I picked up my oldest from karate day camp, and she was really lethargic. Her sister had a Father’s Day recital and dinner at her preschool that evening, and after dinner she felt warm when I hugged her. We took her home, checked her temperature, 103, Tylenol. The fever would stay down as long as we kept her on Tylenol or Motrin. I took her to the doctor, who didn’t seem too concerned at the time, and prescribed rest and no swimming. Bummer.
Then the coughing. All the coughing.
Coincidently my wife started to not feel great, so the first day of our vacation I took the girls to the resort and let her rest at home. She has had some lingering health problems this year, and being around sick kids and a sick adult for two weeks didn’t help her situation. I took my daughters, checked in to the hotel, did some crafts, and moved our lives into our room. My oldest daughter’s fever stuck around, and she developed a cough. She hung tough, though, and had as much fun as possible without swimming, or margaritas and pina coladas (for me, I mean).
The next day she coughed most of the day as I tried to get her an appointment with the doctor, but it was the weekend and Father’s Day so that didn’t happen. Then the coughing really kicked in: She coughed most of the night, which means she didn’t sleep much, which means I didn’t sleep much.
Besides all the amenities at this resort, the location was a blessing: it was only a 40 minute drive home, so we made an appointment with our regular doctor in the morning. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic just in case, and also ordered a chest x-ray to rule out other possibilities. And despite all the coughing, she was the same kid she always is: happy, go-lucky, goofball. That will serve her well in the future.
So vacation recap thus far:
- Moved into hotel – check
- Fever – check
- Coughing – check
- Spouse sick too – check
- Coughing preventing sleep – check
- Antibiotics prescribed – check
- Chest X-ray ordered – check
Once we get the chest x-ray done, pick up some yucky medicine and have lunch, we head back to the resort to make the most of our vacation while we are there. My wife asked the resort employees for some of the crafts that we can take back to the room after explaining we have a sick kid, coughing pretty badly. They were nice enough to help us out, and we minimized the disappointment of not swimming some.
Since we were not far from home, to try and minimize any discomfort, we decided to spend the night at home and come back in the morning. That plan changed a little when my wife wasn’t feeling well.
The hits kept on coming.
My mother-in-law came by with some comfort food and ended up taking the girls with her to her house. A couple hours later, she and I checked in on our respective patients. That’s when she said she wasn’t feeling well herself with some indigestion symptoms. Then a couple hours later I got the call that I needed to go pick up the girls because my mother-in-law was headed to the ER for emergency surgery.
Good news, though: the rest of the week turned around. The antibiotics started taking effect for my daughter, my mother-in-law had her procedure and was resting at home, and my wife was able to speak to her doctor and get some options on how to get back to normal for the short term. Unfortunately, she has a more long term situation to deal with, but that is another story for another day. And at this point, we still have three days to take advantage of as much as possible, which we did.
Also, good news, depending on who you ask, was that the doctor said no hockey, so we didn’t have to make the 8 hour road trip. Fortunately, my daughter wasn’t too bummed about it. Of course, it would have been great to see her play, but if any of you parents out there have kids who play sports, it is all consuming. If there is a tournament going on, that is what we are doing that weekend. So it was a bit of a blessing to me that we didn’t get to make the trip. That also meant more margaritas!
The few days of actual vacation we had left went well. We got to swim, have a nice dinner with my parents, and enjoy some family time. It gave me some time to think and rest. I was able to journal, which I haven’t done in several months. I didn’t have my Playstation to distract me, so I had to write or think or use my brain in some way.
My guess is you exhibit some of these similarities: get up, work, come home, take kids here, take kids there, dinner, bath for the kids, sleep, repeat. Possibly if you’re anything like me, you also stay awake much too late even though you know you’ll regret it in the morning and watch TV or peruse social media. Throw in laundry, dirty dishes, and maybe sweeping the floor, if you’re lucky, and there isn’t much time to think and let your brain rest. I was glad to have a little of that kind of time this trip.
Now I just need a vacation from my vacation.
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