"I want to go there, so we all have to go there."
So declares Grandmama on vacation. So I have to go on some bizarre animatronic Jurassic Park-style boat ride, where my children will undoubtedly be excited ... until they are scared by the animatronic dinosaurs trying to eat their faces. Then they will try to climb into my arms, regardless of the fact that I haven't been able to lift either one of them in three or four years.
Such is vacation with my extended family.
We've already had to visit an urgent care center once. That was Foo-Dog's fault. Shortly before going on vacation, my sister somehow managed to contract a particularly virolent strain of poision oak. Did I mention that Foo-Dog is allergic to poision ivy, oak and sumac? She had the brilliant idea to buy a gallon of bleach and bag of cotton balls and swab her skin with bleach, which only ruined her clothes and made her reek of bleach.
Then, my nephew Fatty Lumpkins developed a mean case of swimmer's ear. Of course, he was so busy playing that not until he laid down quietly to sleep did it make itself too uncomfortable to ignore. Faced with a tear-stained Fats, the Long Suffering Husband made a late-night run to the local big box store for baby aspirin. (Ever notice that anything you forget on vacation is exactly what you need when you're several hundred miles from home, but anything you remember to bring never makes its way out of your suitcase?)
Strangely enough, this is the first year in which my father, Grampy Grumpy, didn't schedule a trip to some obscure fortification. It's almost not a vacation without traveling out some narrow gravel road to a sketchy-looking, tumble-down wall, which used to be a tiny fort once involved in some insignificant battle. My dad is great at sniffing those out.
I really should know better than to expect a week of peace and relaxation when all 12 of us are in close quarters for an extended period of time. The only people I can stand constant contact with are my children, and I think that may only be because I get to tell them what to do.
It doesn't help when I keep telling my family to do something entertaining.
"I need to write a column, do something funny, Mom."
"What should I do?"
"Something amusing. If I write about my insect-phobia again, I'll probably be fired."
"Write about Fatty getting swimmer's ear."
The LSH tosses in his two-cents: "Are you working on vacation?"
" ... maybe."
"I'm just writing a column. That's all. I'd be done already, but y'all are being super boring."
"We don't exist to provide you with column fodder. And you were checking your email at the pool today."
"I was not!"
"Yes you were."
"I'm totally committed to spending time together as a family and forging memories and strengthening our relationship and all that stuff. I don't miss the newsroom at all."
"You're a terrible liar."
"It's an occupational hazard."
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)