Wednesday, January 8, 2020
The family that doesn't play together stays together, and other realities
I was chatting on my Facebook page about the cruise we went on over winter break, from L.A. to Mexico. Another mom commented that cruises hadn't worked out for her family, and how did we manage? The answer was easy: We didn't hang out together all the time.
Since Max and Sabrina were little, Dave and I have regularly gone our own way on weekends and during vacations with the kids. We had to—Max was often afraid to go to events or participate in activities. Even eating at restaurants could be a challenge, as the noise level and hustle and bustle were too much for him. Or he just wasn't physically able to handle the outing.
Once in a while, when I'd see photos on social media of families hiking on local trails or traipsing through the jungles of Costa Rica, I'd feel a pang of "we-can't-do-that." But it would pass. As Max got older and his sensory issues receded, our options grew too and we were able to enjoy more things as a family, including seeing shows. Then we had Ben and our family dynamics changed all over again.
With two teens and a four-year-old, it's basically impossible to find activities we all enjoy doing at the same time, other than going to theme parks and eating out and even that is hotly debated. I'll head to a birthday party with Ben, Max and Dave will go have steak for lunch (Max is still in his steak phase), Sabrina will hang in her room and do homework or stare at her phone or stare at her phone some more. Or Dave will take Max and Ben to a playspace and Sabrina and I will go to a show. We did pull off a good amount of togetherness on our London trip last spring, although it entailed a fair amount of whining and even roaring.
On the cruise, Max mainly wanted to hang out in the teen club, Sabrina liked to be there too, and Ben decided the hot tub was the place to be (with a daiquiri). Me, I just wanted to lie on a lounge chair and read my New Yorkers. Dave enjoyed rambling around, sometimes with Max or Sabrina. One afternoon he got a massage and I hung with Ben at the hot tub.
We had some breakfasts together and all our dinners. This was somewhat of a miracle, as Max has traditionally wanted to dine only in-room when he was little and later in, on in the teen club. But Princess Cruises didn't let teens eat in the teen center. And so we lured Max to dinner with promises of steak and pina coladas. And yes, my kids like fruity virgin drinks.
We find our family togetherness where we can. I don't feel like we're missing out, and the kids don't seem to, either. Once again I say: Whatever works for your family works.