Family travel comes in many shapes and sizes. Most of the time in Villanoville, the equation is the same: Me + Powerwoman + L + R. This past weekend, however, the formula took on a new look—my kids were hanging out with their Momma at home, and I was traveling with *my* parents (who are known in these parts as Grammy C and Grampy V).
We were in San Diego for a wedding. We had separate rooms (thank goodness), but it was the first time JUST the three of us (I’m an only child) have traveled together as a family since I was in high school.
Which means it was quite a hoot.
Exhibit A: I arrived at our hotel for the weekend, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, to find my parents drinking beer by a fire pit—something they NEVER did when we vacationed together during our younger days. (Later, my dad also ordered beer at the hotel bar. Who has he become?)
Exhibit B: My mother, who from time to time still harbors a Long Island accent, wore a knitted sweater thing over her shoulders to keep her warm. She called it a SH-AWWWWWWWWWL. And every time I heard her say the word I laughed.
Exhibit C: The three of us vowed to meet in the lobby so we all could drive to the rehearsal dinner together, but my father was 30 minutes late. When I asked my mother what he was doing upstairs, she said he ran up to get something just before I had arrived. She noted the errand should have taken no more than five minutes. It took WAY longer than that.
Exhibit D: After the aforementioned rehearsal dinner, the three of us hit the game room. The two of them stood there and watched me gun for the record at the lone Pop-A-Shot game (I came within 20 points). Then Dad took a turn. (He was less efficient. Think Herb Williams, circa 1994 New York Knicks.)
Those were just the highlights from the first day. The rest of the weekend was filled with foibles over umbrellas in the rain, botched directions despite the help of a GPS, deep conversations about child-rearing, and discussions about life after Social Security. Throw in a hearty dose of nagging from Mom and a bunch of incessant whistling from my Dad (trust me; that shit is PIERCING), and it was just like old times.
In my teens, this degree of intensity drove me nuts and soured me on the mere mention of going away with the two of them later in life. Now that later has arrived, however, now that I’m a grown-up myself, I was able to laugh off the more stressful parts of the family dynamic when I had to and appreciate it at all other times.
In other words, I had a blast.
So often we new-ish parents think family travel must be confined to the people in our immediate families. This weekend with Mom and Dad reminded me that they’re my family, too. Traveling with them was just as fulfilling as traveling with my wife and girls, only in entirely different ways. I’m not sure I could do it again for a few months, but I’m certainly more willing to consider it than ever before.
To what extent do you vacation with your extended family, and where do you go?