For the first time ever, my kids got together this summer with all their cousins at one time. We spent a week at my parents’ house in Montana, eating their free food, playing on their personal playground, and coloring with their crayons.
So much of the trip was reminiscent of my childhood – trips to my grandparents’ house when I would stay up all night in their basement with my siblings, wreaking havoc and congratulating ourselves on what moronic parents we had that they had no idea that we were still awake. Apparently we thought that our ear-piercing squeals and the sound of the pool balls slamming into each other as we threw them around the table were SUPER SNEAKY.
My kids are equally delusional. I enjoy ignoring them as they giggle with their cousins, reveling in the joy of my idiocy. Little do they know I keep a baby monitor on in their room so I can hear every word of their whisper-yelled conversations. I know when they’re pretending to give each other shots, when they decide to swap pajamas. I know. And eventually I have to shut down their fun and sit on them until they pass out.
It’s strange to find myself in the role of enforcer. It’s my job to squelch the fun if the fun must be squelched. If a nap’s to be administered right in the middle of the raucous good times, I must be the one to administer it. If I don’t administer it, I must suffer the consequences in the form of a nuclear toddler meltdown over the size and shape of his mashed potatoes.
This trip, as opposed to the vacations of my youth, I was the one to hyperventilate when my son wrote all over Grammy’s new ottoman rather than being the one to wonder why my parents were freaking out over the insignificant messes I made.
When road-tripping as the adult, you have to do the actual driving while other people like your children sit in their cushy seats, eating bonbons, and watching movies. Sometimes you need to feed them food, wipe their faces, take them to the potty every 10 minutes, and change their movie in between your turns at the wheel, and they lament the hardship that is their sad, sad life of travel.
But even their whining is somehow cute because they’re me. In some strange way, years later, they’re me. I see myself in their excitement, their sadness, their fun, and of course their cuteness. I definitely see myself in their cuteness.