How To Ruin A Family Vacation, Part One

  • There are many steps to properly ruining a family vacation. You’ll need to fully dedicate yourself to the process, but stay focused. Vacation annihilation is possible. And since I have personally accomplished this feat, I will describe the process in several easy steps. Feel free to make different twists and turns, to really ruin your own family’s time of relaxation to suit your specific needs. Own it, that’s the key. After all, the money that you’ll be wasting is your own, your sad and vague Facebook posts should be as well.
  • But for reference, here’s how we managed to really excell at our most recent stressful summer situation:
  • First, and this requires some pre-planning, pay off all non-medical debt. Then, to assure that you never go back into debt, get rid of all credit cards, except for the absolute necessities. (I.E. your Target card and Nordstrom card.) This step may seem unrelated, but trust me, it is imperative to making sure that you cannot charge your way to frivolous things such as safety and bliss.
  • Second, instead of being at home with your family enjoying a long, lazy summer, go back to work. In fact, work more hours in 8 weeks than you have cumulatively throughout the previous year. This step is critical, as it ensures that both your children and husband will be disappointed with you. Their loud vocal hysterics will completely strip you of the feelings of accomplishment that you had after working all those long, emotionally draining, shifts caring for foster children. This disappointment will set your trip off on the wrong foot, helping to make sure things go roughly.
  • Next, plan almost all of your family’s trips for the last 3 weeks of summer vacation. Doing this will heap pressure onto what other people refer to as “dog days”. Well, you’re no mutt, so get out there! Plan for spontaneous fun in carefully detailed increments. Doing this with a fast approaching timeline in mind for the end of summer, is a helpful way to have something hanging over you. It creates a real lose/win situation. Even if you lose at winning, well, you’ll win at losing.
  • Speaking of winning, try your hardest to plan this particular trip to coincide with your body’s monthly reminder of it’s former fertility. This will allow you to get the most bang for your emotional buck. Yes, ma’am. Your three days of hell won’t be glossed over by a sunny disposition. In fact, your entire weekend will feel like an emotional montage with a diverse range of characters. You will feel everything, EVERYTHING, even things that don’t actually happen. And also cramps.
  • Once those things are in place, secure a toddler between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. Place the toddler behind the driver and just out of the passenger’s reach. Make sure that the toddler drops their favorite stuffed panda to the left, so that it cannot be picked up by anyone in the vehicle. Do this precisely as the vehicle is careening down a 6% grade for 3,000 feet at 85 miles per hour. It is imperative that the toddler both screams at the top of their lungs steadily, and that they kick the back of the driver’s seat. This should be done in a random, but unrelenting, pattern, with a fierceness that channels Bruce Lee.
  • Do not bring enough tablets for your children. Believe that they will become better people if they learn to share, and hold fast to this belief, even when backseat infighting makes you want to throw your ideals out the window with the dang panda.
  • Once you are 125 miles from your destination, and over 200 miles from home, hear something strange from the front of your car. Pull over into the overwhelming darkness, right next to America’s creepiest farmhouse, and get out of the vehicle. Realize that you have no cell service, and also that no one would hear you screaming. Make sure to pick up each lid and bottle from the water that your husband is furiously dumping into some angry car part, because you care. But, also in case a creeper with a saw is watching, and would decide to spare your family based solely on your stewardship of the planet.
  • Drive to the next town, once it is questionably safe to do so. Realize quickly that every hotel is booked for the night. Receive a warning from a kindly mechanic that your water pump is breaking and that you should drive no farther than a half mile, or risk blowing your van’s head gasket. But, he says, don’t stay in that motel over there with children. It isn’t safe and it’s kind of a Crap Sandwich (and no, he didn’t say crap, he said something else.)
  • Determine in person that every other hotel/motel is still booked solid, and get the last room available at the Crap Sandwich motel. It’s almost midnight, and the only other option is to sleep in the parking lot. Notice while unloading your children that the light in the parking lot is being provided by the adjacent building. You know, the one with the sign on top advertising a liquor store/lounge and exotic dancing.
  • As tired as you are at this point, do not give up. Hold fast. Your vacation will get much, much worse over the next 48 hours…
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