I just returned from a very relaxing, quiet vacation at a cabin in the north woods of Minnesota. This gem of a historic log cabin resort is the perfect place for peace, solitude, and communing with nature. It’s quite the fishing mecca, as well, but that’s not why I went there. There’s also a nice beach, and I’m sure in the heat of the summer it’s a great family spot for splashing about. There are also options for hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and viewing great sunsets and the night sky, full of a bazillion stars.
This particular vacation was a solo affair…some time alone, away from the computer, the car, and work, but there are times it’s also fun to vacation with others…a spouse, friends, family. I do remember some fun family vacations as a kid, and as a grownup human, I can appreciate my parents’ patience and diligence in taking us places. But I feel it’s important to think about the location of your vacations, and the age-appropriateness of your decision to bring along the kids.
I can see that this resort would be a great place for school-age kids. Kids who are able to walk on their own, understand the basics of safety around water, fire, and in the woods, and are eager to explore nature. Kids who want to find birds in the woods, and who might appreciate watching quietly as those two deer come out of the woods, right into the resort in the early mornings or evenings. Kids who love s’mores, but understand that fire is hot, and it’s the marshmallow that needs to get melted, and not their sneakers. Kids who are ready to take a boat ride and learn to fish, able to sit down in the boat, wearing a life jacket while whooshing about the lake. Kids who want to try new things, like baiting a hook, eating new foods at the lodge, or using binoculars.
But…I’m sure you know where this next part is going. In my four days at the lake, I saw a total of four families who brought along babies and toddlers. As I said, I’m all for family vacations, but I had to wonder what made them choose this place, and to bring along the tiny kiddos this time. As I watched these families navigating the up north vacation with tiny ones, many reasons came to mind why this would not be the best place to bring the babies.
I’ll try to sum it up briefly, and spare you the lengthy whining and complaining from this childless old fart. Just because you put the life jacket on the 2 year old while she’s in the boat does not mean it’s safe to take it off as soon as you set her on the dock for her to toddle on her way. And just because you like to take a solo trip in the boat, and leave the kiddos with mom for a bit, don’t assume that your toddlers will enjoy seeing you pull away without them, and wave goodbye quietly. Observation: if a kid screams in a cabin, and daddy isn’t there to hear it, it still sounds like a kid screaming its head off.
Just because the lemonade you ordered for your one and a half year old came in a cute kid’s cup with a bendy straw doesn’t mean he knows how to drink out of it. Tipping a cup upside down, as if it were a sippy cup, when it’s not will only end in a small child, his high chair, and the dining room floor covered in sticky lemonade. And you paying no attention to this delightful behavior, and saying to your in-laws when they alert you to the situation, “I’m not going to say anything because he will just keep doing it,” is not going to make him any less sticky when you get him out of that high chair.
Just because you think the soup will be something your baby will eat does not mean you should allow him to eat it with his hands. Soup does not stay in a baby’s hand for long.
Just because you said to your toddler, “Come this way, Jimmy!” does not mean that he will do what you asked when there is a cool lake and beach toys tempting him to do the opposite. And turning your back on him and walking away, when he is 40 feet from you, and inches from the water, will not prevent him from drowning in the 4 minutes that you decided to depend on a 2 year old to make the right decision.
And finally, just because you have learned to tolerate the whining and crying that your baby seems to do in response to everything, which sounds like a loud sheep who is very unhappy, does not mean that those staying in nearby cabins will come to accept the sound of your adorable toddler as part of their quiet vacation getaway.
Maybe I need to find a no kids resort next time.