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 Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"

Vacation Preparation

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
My husband and I are going on vacation together, and man, oh, man, do we need it! We are not taking the children. We believe that because of the natural resiliency of youth they are in less dire need than we are. Well, that, and the last time we took them with us we both spent the entire time worrying and fretting and chasing them down and herding them. It took some of the shine off the whole trip for us - although we did enjoy seeing them have a good time.

No, the way we look at it, the children will all be grown and educated before too many years. We hope that they will work hard, save their money, and take nice vacations. Michael and I are on the downhill slide into old age. We figure we only have twenty or thirty years left to really enjoy ourselves and we are going to pack in as much as we can. We want to have a lot to remember when we are senile.

It may sound very carefree and possibly even irresponsible to run off and leave your children at home - and when I say "children" I am referring to a group of young adults and late teens. But it is not irresponsible. It takes a great deal of planning, forethought and organization. I have spent the last two days cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping and running errands. I will be so exhausted by departure time that I may need a piggyback ride into the plane.

I am doing my utmost to ensure that they have everything they need. I bought lots and lots of prepared meals, easy to prepare meals and nutritious snacks. I put their insurance cards into an envelope and labeled it. I also put a few simple instructions on the front, "If you are a little sick to your stomach, take an anti-acid and go to school anyway. If you have a headache, take an acetaminophen and go to school anyway. If you get a scrape or cut, the band-Aids are in the downstairs medicine cabinet. Slap one on and go to school anyway. If there is flowing blood, call 911."

I've got another envelop with a little cash in it for them. I labeled this envelop too. "This money is for bread or milk or any other food item you need from the grocery store. You may want to order pizza some night. If you want to go bowling or go to the movies one or two nights, please do. This money is not meant to be spent on girlfriends, gambling debts, broadswords, or any more pets. We do not need any pets. As a matter of fact, if you want to find a new home for the cats, please feel free."

My husband got into the spirit of the thing with a note of his own. His went something like this: "1. No parties. 2. Make sure to close the windows if it rains. 3. Do not wreck the car. 4. No parties. 5. Do not burn down the house. 6. If you feel like killing your brother, don't. 7. No parties. - P.S. We have informed all the neighbors that we will be gone. All the neighbors will be watching you. Mrs. Bowers, in particular, has held a grudge against you since the time you whapped her with a water balloon in 1992. They all have our number. No parties."

I think that things are as organized and prepared as they are going to get. But just to be certain, tonight I will call all the kids together and we will take a little tour around the house. I will show them where the bathroom cleanser is and give them a brief description of how to use it. I will show them how to lock the front door and then have them demonstrate it. I will show them the stove and tell them that they would be better off using the microwave when possible. I will show them the washing machine. I will show them how to use it. I will explain to them that there is no laundry fairy - or rather, that the laundry fairy is going on vacation and if they run out of socks or underwear they should not put the soiled ones under their pillow and hope for a miracle. They should not recycle. They should just take the plunge and give that old washing machine a run for its money. It won't hurt anything, and they might be surprised by the results.
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" - May 2, 2006 Column

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