Heading North

Why must we get away on weekends? My friend Dan is so smart. He doesn’t go away on weekends. Although I think he goes to soccer games all weekend. Maybe no one has it figured out. We are of the kind of people who like to get away for the weekend. We drive three hours to get away. We drive four hours to get back. It’s the same road. I think the gravitational pull is stronger going towards the north.

When I was a kid we lived in northern Wisconsin. There was not really much point in going further north. We had a small cottage 3 miles east of our house. We only spent the night a few times. Did I mention we were only 3 miles away. We never went away for weekends. My wife’s family didn’t go away for weekends much. When they did go, it was from New Hampshire to New Jersey (that’s South, for you people in Los Angeles).

My wife, we can call her Cynthia, and I liked camping. I think that’s how it started. We also both grew up in the country and some people like to go back to the things of their youth. I really don’t know how to explain it. When camping, we would go north one weekend and south the next weekend. Eventually, we settled on north. There’s something about the north. I’m sure some people go south for the weekend, but most travel north.

With three children this involves packing like we are going on a mini military campaign. You would think that the littlest person would take up the least space. Not true, once you start to figure in diapers and all the extra clothes for throwing up on and dropping food on. Fortunately, the boy doesn’t have any material in the knees of his pants so that conserves a little space with his clothes. It seems like there could be some kind of clothing truce, but that would involve negotiations with the mother on this matter. I think I could get the kids to agree that we just bring one extra change of clothes and that’s all we have for the weekend. We’re a dang family. I don’t care if there’s a grape juice stain on the boy’s shirt. I can always imagine him clean. I have a good imagination that way. Cynthia, on the other hand, doesn’t like to use her imagination in such a manner. So we packed our three or four bags of clothes – depending on the season.

Next, the house needs to be reasonably clean before we leave. The thought being that it would be depressing to come back to a dirty house. Messes are made as clothes are brought out and some don’t make the cut. The problem with clothes not making the cut is that it’s not like the clothes were trying out for the team – the team being the clothes that get worn – and when not picked, they shuffle off sadly home hoping for another shot someday. These clothes are so depressed about not getting picked that they just lay there on the floor, soaking in their own despair. It’s sad. You have to carry these clothes back to where they came from. My wife and daughter make so many clothes sad. Clothes are always winners with Hoyt. He doesn’t really care about their talents. It helps if they have a number or a dinosaur on them, but not a deal breaker.

Once the clothes are picked up and dishes are washed and toys put away and floors cleaned, the house looks like the kind of place that we don’t live in. The house seems happy for a vacation from us. Now that the place is clean it seems like the kind of place I could spend the weekend. I might even suggest to stay here instead of driving three hours to mess up another location. My request is always met with rolling eyes. I’m starting to think that instead of ending my sentences with periods, I should end them with a picture of rolling eyes. This is more accurate.

When the clothes are packed we then need to have discussions about what kids toys are going to make the trip. This is probably where I lose (if not before) you pre children, no children or post children readers. But, wait. What if I told you that whatever toys the kids can make a knife stick in, they get to bring. That would be quite a thing, but it doesn’t work like that. Goodbye non children and non small children people. Actually, we just fill a bag of small “characters” ranging from Batman and Robin to princesses to fairies to knights and horses and cats and other smallish animals. Then Hoyt requests his Doggie and Lila always wants to bring her four-foot tiger named “Stripey”. Stripey is a girl and don’t ever make the mistake of accidentally referring to her as “him”. What else? Oh, yeah. Everyone needs a pillow and a blanket. Are we ready now? Wait. We almost forgot snacks. I start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Is anyone hungry? No. Has everyone gone to the bathroom? This includes the mother with her half-gallon of coffee pushing her into almost coma state of awakeness. She is so far awake that she almost seems a little sleepy. Everyone good? All right. Where are the car keys? I am directed to the purse hanging in the entrance. Which purse? The green one. Which green one? The little one. The little one is not little, but ends up being littler than the bigger one. Get the kids in the car. Are the windows shut? Is the front door locked? I’ll check. I’m going to the bathroom while I’m in there. Do you have to go? She says no as she pulls the bucket of brown liquid away from her head.

And we’re on the road only an hour after we thought we were going to leave. What could be better than heading north. There’s not too much traffic. Nothing can stop us now. We’ve got a full tank of gas and we’re passing soccer fields full of trapped parents. Parents who had nothing but good intentions when they got their kids into soccer 10 years ago. Ha Ha, you suckers for soccer. Look at me. I’m heading north and nothing can stop me. Kids are tied to their seats for three hours and all I have to do is drive. Did I mention that I love to drive. On your mark, get set, and go. Start day dreaming and thinking about designing that ultimate cabin or building that cool grown up tree house. That’s it. Three hours of personal scheming. What would be my ultimate lawnmower? I don’t know, let me think about it as I drive.

All of a sudden, I’m jarred from my daze of glorious thoughts. What? What is it? Cynthia tells me that Hoyt and Lila both have to go to the bathroom. She adds that she sort of has to go. Cursed bucket of caffeine. Oh, and everyone’s hungry. So much for my ETA. I’ll have to get out my sexton and charts, after stopping for an undetermined time, and rework all my numbers. As we pulled off the highway I saw a field of kids playing soccer and attentive parents lining the side of the field. I swear I could see a parent looking directly across the field at me and smiling, maybe even laughing. Their game would be long over and they’d be home, with their kids in bed, before I made it up north. Maybe we need a new north. A north that’s not so far away. Maybe we could just go north to this soccer field and watch a game and head home. It didn’t seem like a good long-term solution, but right now it felt right. I looked back at Lila sitting next to Stripey and said, “How’s he doing Lila? Does Stripey need to use the bathroom?” Lila said, “Daaaaaaaad, Stripey’s a girl.” And Cynthia rolled her eyes. Funny, this new north already feels like home.

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

Leave a Reply

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Stay at Home Sad | All Rights Reserved.

Coralis Theme by dkszone.net