I hope you are all enjoying your summer.
We recently returned from a family vacation to our usual spot on Longboat Key, Fl. – something we look forward to all year while working, shoveling snow, studying for tests and sweating through sports practices and tournaments.
Two weeks of uninterrupted sun, sand and surf. Nirvana.
Okay, maybe it’s not quite Nirvana. Longboat Key, a barrier island community located on Florida’s west coast, in the county of Sarasota, is idyllic for couples who need a quiet break from reality, old people who can no longer deal with the harsh Northeast weather, and teenage girls who want to work on their tans all day and shop at night.
The brochure says nothing about teenage boys.
Our first day at the near-empty pool, which happens to be six feet from the white sand and aqua Gulf, while the boys were doing what boys do, basically manhandling each other – for fun, I’m told – my husband and I exchanged a look.
This may be a long trip. There were few, if any, other kids/teens or activities around to occupy their time. What pray-tell, will we do?
In between wrestling matches, we managed to fill our days with ProKadema on the beach, frolics in the Gulf, Marco Polo in the pool, push-up poker in the room and dinners out every night, followed occasionally by a mini-golf game and incredible sunsets.
We were entertained by the delight our children took in ordering their meals at restaurants. Their favorite thing to do? Eat something Mom didn’t cook. Each night, we left our phones home and enjoyed conversations over meals, learning a bit more about these boys who are too quickly becoming men. They have bucket lists, goals and dreams. They are funny and thoughtful and silly. We rehashed each day and talked about their favorite subject – namely, where we would eat the following night and which ice cream store we would try next.
Feeding a six-foot-one, fifteen-year-old is expensive. He is never full.
For the rest of the year, I cannot complain about not having enough family time. We spent much of our waking hours, when not at the beach, in one 20×20 room, watching the World Cup, playing cards, reading and generally lying around.
Our parental guidance-ometer took a nosedive (twice) when we let our pre-teen see R-rated movies, so the rest of us wouldn’t have to suffer through another Disney’s Pixar flick. Any more time down here and we would have given him his first beer.
A week into our stay, we rented jet ski’s from a local marina and spent the afternoon on the Intercoastal waterway, jetting around the warm, clear water. At one point we stopped to take in the natural play of baby dolphins jumping through the air, their smooth, grey skin glistening in the sun, as I envied their graceful, peaceful existence in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We were spellbound.
I thought that would be the highlight of our trip. Certainly it was exciting and something that cannot be experienced in NY on the cold Atlantic. But upon reflection, the highlights for me were those quiet moments we take for granted, the easy smile across the table, the shared laugh or when one of my sons sidled up to me on the couch, rested his head on my shoulder, and said nothing, while I read. I’d glanced over my book to see that his thick chubby legs, with dimpled knees, have grown into long, muscular, hairy limbs that would take him, not too far into the future, into a life where I wouldn’t be with him every day. I know I can’t hold onto these moments, as much as I try, but they are ones to treasure.
Sure, two weeks seems like a long time. When you think about it, fifty of the remaining weeks of the year fly by without mercy. We spend our days with work-mates, schoolmates, teammates and the neighborhood gang, and sometimes we lose touch with the nucleus we worked so hard to build, the one my husband and I promised to nurture and protect.
So, if I have to sit around with nothing to do with my three favorite people in the world, for fourteen days, I say, bring it on.