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What I learned on my vacation

My wife is a teacher, which means we enjoy a work-free week every February. We try to devote those seven days to family time, and this year we amped it up by visiting my parents in Florida.

We had a great time, and I learned a lot while in The Sunshine State. Here is the complete list.

1. If the screaming child on the airplane isn't my own, I can listen to her for hours. Remember THAT plane ride? You know the one I mean. You were single and childless, and the shouting, snotting, red-faced scream machine sitting in the seat behind you was stomping on your very last nerve. With each bellow, you contemplated how you could get her out of the plane and plummeting towards the earth.

That kid was on my flight from Florida to Boston. She screamed like her pony tails were in a bear trap. Here's the amazing part: I didn't mind at all. In fact, I was so darn grateful that she wasn't one of my own, and I honestly was unmoved by her wailing. Now that's incredible.

2. There's nothing sweeter than a 4-year-old's naive beliefs. There's a park in western Florida called Weeki Wachee that has featured "live mermaid shows" since 1947. It's actually quite impressive - several very fit and talented swimmers perform their own interpretation of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid" in an immense tank. The set and costumes look great. Best of all, my Grace believes with absolute certainty that she saw honest-to-goodness mermaids. For 45 minutes she was brought to a place of enchantment that she'll probably never experience again, and I pray that I never forget the expression on her face.

3. My kids actually have appetites. I've spent a lot of time complaining about my kids' appetites. Specifically, the apparent lack there of. The 4-year-old who exists on pasta and fruit inhaled everything we put in front of her, and 2-year-old William put away an ice cream cone the size of a baby manatee. Of course I expect pizza and ice cream sandwiches to go down easier than green beans, but man...these kids can eat.

4. Speaking of manatees, they love sweet potatoes. I didn't even know they could farm.

5. I really do love my kids. You may scoff, but after weeks of "No, William," "Grace, stop it," breaking up fights, the same routine day in and and day out and blah, blah, blah, it's easy to forget how wonderful the kids are. I'm very happy to have remembered.

Thanks, mermaids and manatees.

_____

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