Let’s set the stage. A hard-earned company team reward trip to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas that my husband and his coworkers earned like nobody’s business. A reward that I earned too by keeping the home life running like a top with a husband who traveled and my own active writing career, four kids, two cats and a beagle who eats her own poop.
Oh yes, this was earned.
Our way as a couple was paid for by the company but we could bring kids if we paid for them. We did and brought our four boys with us. Our three older boys were beyond excited which left the 2-year-old as the big question mark.
He had never been on a plane before and we had a layover both ways. Surprisingly he was fine on the flights, a little trooper, never cried and actually dug it as he’s nosy and we all know that planes and airports are people watching jackpots. Phew. Now let’s start all that family bonding!
Scratch the needle on the record.
I realized one thing on this trip and that is wherever you go, there you are. Was the bickering between my boys going to leave at the threshold of The Royal Towers Hotel lobby in Atlantis? Of course not! They have zero concept of personal space at home and are always standing too close people in public so of course they did the same in paradise. Jam yourself up against the guy in front of you in line holding a tray of hot coffees? Go for it!
One son has a fear of elevators and pushes his way on and off in a panic knocking aside everyone (and everything) in his path. Of course he did it in paradise too but here he was pushing aside people double fisting adult bevvies on their way to and from the casino. Can you feel the joy? Atlantis LOVED US. Ha.
While all of this craziness was going on with my three older kids let’s get back to the 2-year-old.
When we arrived at the resort he flopped around in the pool with us and had a blast until it dawned on him that he wasn’t at home. As day turned to night he fell into what I would consider an altered mental state. He frantically asked, “Where’s the Mass Pike? I want to GO HOME!”
What 2-year-old notices or even knows what the Massachusetts Turnpike highway is? He did and knew that was his ticket home so he was on a mission to find it.
He had delusions of seeing the Mass Pike through palm trees and when we were on shuttle buses traveling to the different resort properties. Through his pacifier he would say, “Is that the Mass Pike? There! Is that it?”
He was like a thirsty man in the desert who saw a mirage of water except his mirage was the Mass Pike. I saw other families, tourists, business groups all laughing and having fun but here we were with the Mass Pike obsessed 2-year-old lamenting, “I think I see the Mass Pike, I go home now?”
Not one of his toes entered any of the luscious pools or ocean again after that first afternoon. No toddler splash areas for him. Just a little guy desperate for his home base. Here we spent all of this money when he would have been happier in a $5 plastic toddler pool in our backyard littered with piles of dog poop. Paradise lost.
The older boys had fun but Mr. Mass Pike curbed our bliss. Desperate attempts to distract him failed. Aquariums? No. Oh look, boats! Nah. Dolphins? Nope. “Where’s the Mass Pike?” he would beg.
The four nights we were there he was up every two hours screaming bloody murder to the point we thought of contacting the room next to us to apologize as I’m sure we were ruining their sleep and tropical vacation.
In between scream fests I recalled me and my brother on vacation in the backseat of our family rental car with noses buried in comic books as some of the most beautiful scenery in the world passed by our car window on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. At one point, my mom forced us out of the car and said, “LOOK AT IT AND APPRECIATE IT!” reminding us that people travel all over the world to see this.
Oh do I get it now.
Thankfully our older boys did appreciate the trip and had a blast it was just the little one on whom paradise was lost. I ended up feeling sorry for him as his whole world is his house, toys and room and all he wanted was the comfort of those things.
No one can predict how kids handle travel. Having low expectations is good and knowing that things might not turn out the way you hope is key. Enjoy the happy moments when you have them and for the others you will laugh about it someday.
Will we go away with them again? Of course, but not until Mr. Mass Pike is older.