Column: From the Mudroom
Two words describe the month of March to me, and it's not March Madness. It's spring break.
As I pack our bags to hunt for sunshine somewhere, I reflect back to this time last year, when I vowed never to take a driving vacation with teenagers again. It is only now that I am finally able to form complete sentences when discussing or writing about that trip that now seems so long ago. Oh, it wasn't a bad vacation. We started our adventure laughing and joking, and by the time we reached the end of our street, we were happily immersed into our electronics.
Many families balk at the heavy use of iPods, DVDs and Nintendos on family vacations. Not me. Not when I'm driving 18 hours with three teenagers sitting closer than canned sardines. True, when you want to point to something interesting for your children to see, it is a hassle to turn around and wave your arms like you're on fire so they will notice you. After doing this half a dozen times, you soon realize that you don't care if they see another cow or not. Their childhood won't suffer because they didn't see their 900th farm animal.
And it soon became apparent that my teenagers have selective hearing down to an art form. When I tried to talk to them while they were watching a DVD, they looked at me like I was speaking another language. 'We can't hear you!' they cried without even bothering to remove their earphones. However, if I turned to my husband and casually said, 'I feel like a Diet Coke,' believe me, they heard that and next thing you know they were shouting orders right and left.
I must say if there was one enlightening moment on our vacation it would have to be that first day in Palm Springs. I had forgotten my bathing suit. This was the absolute last thing I wanted to shop for but when in Palm Springs and the temperatures are in the low 80s, a bathing suit is a must - especially when the hotel has a swim-up bar. So after dropping off my family to check-in, I went on a mad dash to find new suit. I didn't want to miss a moment of basking in that much-needed sun.
I stopped at the first store I saw. My goal was to get in and get out. I wasn't going to be picky. Let me tell you right now: There is absolutely nothing for an almost-50-year-old woman to purchase in the bathing suit department unless you want to look like Hannah Montana or Betty White. After struggling for way too long and watching the sun go down by the minute, I finally gathered what I thought were acceptable pieces and went to the nearest dressing room.
Trying on a bathing suit is always a humbling experience, but it is particularly so when a woman several decades older than you is trying on the same suit. Ten bathing suits and lots of eye rolling later, I ended up purchasing a bathing suit that my great-grandma would have thought was modest.
One hour later, I found my family all swimming in the pool. They didn't see me at first, but they did notice someone resembling me in a bathing suit with probably the largest padded bathing suit top ever made. My husband swam up to me.
'Wow, some bathing suit,' he said.
'Yes,' I replied. 'Not only is it bullet proof, but it serves as a floatation device.'
Hours later, as we lounged away while soaking up the last bit of afternoon sun, my husband turned to me - he was draped from the top of his neck to the bottom of his feet with towels to prevent sun burning. To get a clear view of him I had to push down my 'we're not going anywhere' swimming suit top. Surrounding us were probably the most beautiful college spring breakers I had ever seen. I remembered living that life a long time ago. At their age, I never thought about growing older.
'Julie,' he said, 'I think we've jumped the shark.'
I was about ready to tell him to speak for himself, but I did the once over. I fluffed the ruffles around my bathing suit skirt and realized he was right.
Julie McGuire is a busy Lake Oswego mother of three children and a monthly columnist for our sister newspaper, the Lake Oswego Review. When she's not playing chauffeur she writes a blog, 'From the Mudroom'at www.sospouse.blogspot.com.