It seemed like such a fun winter break idea at the time.
Drive one hour north to Frankenmuth, the iconic little German town on the way to northern Michigan, and stay overnight at one of the big inns, where pools and water slides and homemade thick egg noodles and fried chicken abound. It would be cheap, it would be easy, and the kids would have torrent of fun.
So we went on Sunday, set off for an adventure, and checked in to a place where the desk staff (the entire staff) wear lederhosen and have more consonants in their names than usual. The “water park” consisted of two very small pools and two large winding slides that most of the kids enjoyed.
The din of families splashing and yelling and playing was never-ending. At night, the arcade games, the family-friendly karaoke and the three pool tables were ripe with energy. And when we told the kids around nine o’clock that it was time to trade in their obsessive paper tickets for cheap little prizes (erasers, pencils, plastic animals), that’s when it all fell apart.
Perhaps it was a parenting mistake to let them stay up so late in such a frenzy of activity. Perhaps it was the food working its evil into their veins. Perhaps the exhaustion of a constant stream of activity finally set in or perhaps the idea of going in there in the first place wasn’t so brilliant.
Whatever it was, at about 9:30, I found myself lecturing my children about how ungrateful and selfish they were being and how I was rethinking this family vacation idea.
Outside, in the well-walked hallways, it sounded like hotels I stayed in when I was 22 – loud, drunk, stumbling revelry.
Inside, we shared a mini-suite well-worn room with our four children – two in the sofa bed, one in a double bed, and my honey and I piled into a double bed whose comforter I’d rather not consider.
At a certain point, everyone, not just children, melts down. It’s inevitable when you pack in a day of go-go-go and being out of your element, eating food you’d rather not or shouldn’t eat, and competing for the best spot in the overcrowded hot tub.
Or maybe I was projecting onto them my disappointment in my choice of a destination.
On the drive home yesterday, Dan said with a laugh, “Well, we can cross that one of our list forever. I don’t need to go back there.”
And it’s true.
So I wonder if it was mere exhaustion and late-night agitation that generated so much attitude among my little ones. Or if it’s that the surroundings dictate the behaviors.
I can’t imagine that if we were in a five-star hotel eating filet mignon or a just-picked salad with handmade dressing that they would be as ornery.
Or maybe they would. Maybe that’s just children coming into their own and not quite realizing that sometimes, you have to suck it in and suck it up and deal.