Summers with My Kids

by Chris McGinty of

On the subject of family
vacations, I think that I maybe got a false sense of how jobs worked from my
childhood. My mom didn’t get back into the workplace until I was older, and my
dad was in the Air Force. This meant that when we kids were out of school, my
dad could use his vacation time, and we could hit the road. This often involved
driving someplace far away to visit a grandparent.

When I became a parent, I was
working jobs that didn’t pay well enough. Saving enough money to take a couple
of weeks off felt impossible much less saving enough to go somewhere with that
time off. The thing with wage jobs is that the time off costs you as much as
you would have made. This may be one of the big arguments for not having kids
until you have your financial life in order. The simple fact is that kids grow
up fast, and you’ll look up at some point and realize that you were never able
to take your kids on a proper vacation.
This is supposed to be Summertime
Funtime though, so let’s get a little more positive.
Why not bum everyone out, Chris?
Sorry about that.
While I was in my second
marriage, summertime was a time where I could get the kids from the first
marriage to visit with the kids from the second marriage. In a way, I suppose
they got the experience of visiting family, just not traveling all across the

We did manage to take them to do
a few things somewhere along the way. I remember a trip to the Gainesville Zoo
with all six of the children. This is when I realized that we had a working
method of keeping the kids well behaved in public. The idea was that they could
be as loud and crazy as they wanted in the car. Then when we were walking
around in public they could have fun, but they had to be respectful of the
other families by not being loud and crazy. I suppose that most people feel
that they can’t concentrate on driving with loud kids, but I have a pretty good
tolerance for chaos. And they were in seatbelts, so it couldn’t get too crazy.
We took four of the kids to
Scarborough Faire one summer, and their grandfather on my second ex-wife’s side
was out there with us, and I believe an aunt. The problem is we may have gone
more than once, but I remember everything as one trip. The only thing I really
remember specifically involving one of the kids is that my youngest daughter
wanted to ride an elephant, so I got on with her. It was also my first time,
and to date only time, to ride an elephant. It was slower and rougher than I
would have expected. The slowness was probably intentional, given that you
don’t want novice riders getting on an animal and going at top speed, but the
rough part was unexpected especially at that speed. I realized that there is
probably an actual skill to riding an elephant that differs even from riding a
horse. I rode a pony when I was young and I don’t remember it being so rough.
And there were a few camping
trips with the kids’ aunt and uncle. Those were your typical camping trips. If
you’ve ever been camping at a campground then you know what I mean. I do
remember one trip that was the very antithesis to Summertime Funtime. We drove
three hours and on the way we started hearing reports that an unexpected cold
front was coming in. When we got there we were there for about an hour, and
realized that it wasn’t just a cold front. It was a miniature Ice Age. It was
funny in a way to see nearly everyone at the campground packing up upon
realizing that it was actually going to go from summer temperatures to near
freezing. Needless to say, we drove three hours back home and marveled at how
quickly that had gone south.
I suppose that my kids never got
to experience stopping at Stuckey’s as we traveled across the country, but they
did get to do some fun stuff along the way. After a certain point, called
divorce, I was never in a position to take off enough time to have the kids for
the summer, much less take them on vacation, so my recollections surely seem
Chris McGinty is a blogger who
has aspirations of taking his kids on vacations as adults the way his dad has
done for him and his siblings in recent years. But why wait until he’s
independently wealthy? Vacation #1: Get to know the next door neighbours.

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