Saturday, January 8, 2011

Awful, Awful, Awful

There's a great scene in a mediocre movie entitled "The Backup Plan." A seasoned father of 3 is sitting on a park bench beside a young, bewildered, & expecting dad. The younger asks the older what fathering is like. His answer is classic. Click here to watch.

Elise and I laughed hysterically when we saw this. Because, in our experience, it pretty much sums up the life of parenting. It perfectly describes family vacations. It also gives context for blog posts - because we live the "awful, awful, awful" and then we blog only the magical.

Thus, our Christmas trip to Colorado.

We backed our minivan out of the garage at 4:15am only to find a large piece of plastic beneath the grill dragging along the driveway, then we had to pull over within the first 5 minutes to ziptie it, then the car's dashboard lights started to blink wildly and we had to pull over at the next exit, then Hadley vomitted within the first hour of our drive, and off we went - 11 more hours of bliss.

Then, the flu really hit Hadley that night. And when Hadley gets sick, she gets mean. Over the next 3 nights, Elise and I caught a combined 5 hours of sleep we think. Hadley was so unbearable throughout the night (and day) that the only way we could keep her from waking everyone else up in the house was to strap - err, buckle - her into her carseat in the garage (it was heated). On one of those mornings, Papa and I got her out at 5am and drove her to an Emergency Room 45 minutes away only to find out that I didn't have my insurance card. We turned around and headed the opposite direction for a walk-in clinic. On the following morning, Hadley and I got out the door around 5:30am to drive aimlessly into the night. We covered over 30 miles to Hot Sulfur Springs. It turned out to be a pretty smart (though environmentally unfriendly) move. She passed out and I found a little coffee hut with a drive-thru. The cartime was near restorative to my soul. Until Hadley woke up again. Her first words were, "Daddy, I'm hungry." She sounded sweet, compliant, and even repentant - so I decided to make it a special moment by suggesting we finish off our 2+ hour road trip by hitting McDonald's. She was happy about the idea until she decided she wasn't. I tried to force it through, finally got her dressed and out of the car, and to the counter. It was there that I realized I didn't have any money in my wallet. Meltdown. Time to go. Quick. All restoration vanished. I just became THAT dad. Awful, awful, awful. The below video is just when things start to turn sour (note: be sure to watch til the end - that's when you'll get the full flavor of what we're up against)

The first thing we did when we got home was buy Dobson's "The Strong Willed Child" and "Raising Your Spirited Child."

There were magical moments, indeed:

All my brothers and their families with my parents all together. This has not happened in years and was, in part, the result of some beautiful healing of relationships. We could not remember the last time we had all skiied together.

sledding with Mia, Brianna, and Papa

Just "being" with Butde and Papa and celebrating Christmas.

And, of course, Mia skiing. This was hugely significant on so many levels.

My dad ("Papa") is an excellent skiier and has taught all of his four boys to ski. He's now teaching his grandkids. One of those secret little hidden dreams in my heart was to get married, have kids, and raise our kids to love the slopes. Even moreso, my dream was that they could share that love with their Papa. So it was such a special memory for me to take Mia skiing and have Papa with us. He's so patient and instructive. He pushes in all the right ways and knows just what levers to pull.

And Mia...well, what can I say? I was so proud; my heart was so full. She had a perpetual grin from ear to ear the whole time. I dare say I have never seen her so happy. And, if you've ever taken a 3-year old skiing, you know the perils of JUST getting to the slopes. From the parking lot, to the rentals, to the potty, etc...It was a good 90 minutes of prep and Mia was a champ. She was patient, she was focused, she was confident, and she loved being with her Daddy and Papa!

Then, when we finally popped her in skiis for the first time - she knew just what to do. How to slide her boot into the binding, how to lean forward, and she even INSISTED on having poles. After one run on the kiddie slope, she pointed to the bigboy hill, smiled, and said, "Daddy, I want to go over there."