If it wasn’t already enough for my parents to have the kids, the cat, and me aboard the RV for ten days as we traveled down the Washington, Oregon, and northern California coasts, they got rewarded with the opportunity to do it for eight more – without me. And I’m sure they weren’t thrilled with the announcement that we wouldn’t be able to get to Dana Point on the 20th, but rather on the 23rd. Make that an extra 11 days alone with the kids. And so my parents rightly deserve the title of Grandparents of the Year, because they not only signed up to do it, but successfully completed the major task without giving our kids away or leaving them on the side of a highway somewhere.
Our kids can be intense. Really intense. And strong-willed. I mean, um, spirited! And Andy, in particular, has very selective hearing, which works when you’re talking about treats, but not when there’s anything helpful to be done. Managing two spirited, whiny, constantly hungry kids for that long while also trying to make progress down the coast was a Herculean task.
They managed it with the help of the kids’ bikes, some awesome campsites, a few other campground kids, lots of toys, lots of snacks, and good old DVDs. And, of course, a fair bit of patience. And sternness. And probably some wine. It also helped that the cat was no longer on board, since the kids could not keep themselves away from her, and poor Demon was forced to find every place imaginable on the boat to hide from the kids’ constant attention. It may have helped that I wasn’t there, because I’m pretty sure they’re at their worst around me. It also probably helped that they had already gotten used to the routine of the RV: putting the convertible couch out in the evening and folding it up in the morning, driving in the morning, playing outside in the afternoon, bedtime stories in the evening. And to cap off the whole experience, they got a full three days at Disneyland and California Adventure, which was the cherry on top of the trip for them.
There were certainly some trying times, not least the time that the RV’s brakes began to have problems, so my dad pulled into a place in LA to get them fixed while my mom headed down to Oceanside with the kids in the car, with no snacks or TV to tide the kids over. The hope was that my dad would get to the campground by bedtime. I told my mom there was no shame in taking them out to McDonald’s and getting a hotel room for the night. Whatever needed to be done to say sane. In the end, they found a playground and a pizza place, and my dad made it to the campsite by 8:00 pm that night. Difficult day survived, but not an easy one to get through.
When the time came to give the kids back, my parents were ready. But they were also sad to see them go, knowing what incredible changes will take place just in the three short months before they see them again. For their part, the kids loved the RV trip and the time with Grandma and Papa, and it remains a highlight of their trip so far. And we can’t say enough to thank our parents for taking the kids down the coast – Grandparents of the Year indeed. Hard as it may have been, it was a far better option for everyone than having them with us for the long, difficult boat delivery down what turns out to be a very long coast!