We just got back from a glorious week of family vacation at Acadia National Park. (You gotta go.) Dave and I realized we’ve been going for five years now – since Younger was small enough to carry on our backs on the harder hikes. It really got us remembering what it’s been like through the years, and how the boys themselves have changed.
Usually when we “remember last year” it’s where we ate, or what mountain we summited, or where the heck we found that candy apple that Younger is dying for. But this year we remembered how different the boys are.
It began with setting up our camp. We put up two tents, a shade for the picnic table, campfire chairs and wood, set up the kitchen, and unpacked the car in record time. It was because this year not only were they helping, but they knew what to do and didn’t need to be guided every step of the way. (That, and they really wanted to get to the pool.)
They never complained when we dragged them out for a bike ride or hike. Sure, when they got tired the whining began, but that used to start as soon as we announced the plan for the hike. This year they were into it – how many mountains can we climb? Can we go up the one we liked last year?
Older began to understand the geography and landscape and peppered Dave with questions about it. When I wasn’t sure which direction to go on a trail he said, “Just ask Daddy. He knows everything.”
Younger became obsessed with the license plates from around the country and asked why so many people came from so far away to Acadia. I explained what a National Park was and he instantly understood the difference between public and private lands. He joked about how if someone bought it we’d be on their lawn and they’d be yelling at us to get off.
I can’t imagine either of them being the least bit concerned about (or even understanding) either of these topics last year. Or being helpful around the campsite without being asked. Or passing up a treat because they felt they’d already had too many that day. It’s just a different level of development.
Watching them grow up like this is delightful, but of course the trip wasn’t all perfect. There were still moments when we told them to go away and play somewhere else because we couldn’t take their craziness anymore.
But after all our reflecting on the past I could honestly say it will be different next year. I asked Dave if he remembered the first two years when we wouldn’t even dream of taking them into a restaurant to sit for dinner? Now we take them everywhere without worry. Next year they might sit and read a book for half an hour (pipe dream).
So the thing that’s annoying you today: don’t worry so much. It may seem like it’s never going to end but it will. Another annoyance will take its place, but it will be different. Your child will be older and wiser. You will be too. And, God willing, each year the vacation will get better and better.
Oh. And I know that “Daddy knows everything” bit is just a phase too.