As I have lamented in recent posts, summer is going quickly. In yesterday’s post I chronicled a few highlights from our trip to New Hampshire, a trip that fits nicely into the ‘quality family time’ heading. As important as those family events are, I have become more and more convinced that my children will need time with me on an individual level. This has become especially important as they have gotten older.
My first time taking one of my kids to something specific was a few years ago when I took my oldest son to a Green Bay Packers preseason game. At that event, he was able to convince me to buy him a foam finger and a bowl of overpriced popcorn. He had a great time at the game and still talks about it today. It is certainly these things that he will remember.
Now as my other kids are getting older, I have been more mindful of doing things with them. In May, for example, I spent a few days in Minnesota with my 5-year-old son in order to attend my graduate school graduation. He had quite the adventure, which I chronicled here in two different posts. (here and here) My oldest son could not attend that event because he had school. He wasn’t too upset about it, but still I thought I should do something with him during the summer.
Last week I was able to take him on his first trip to Six Flags New England. There are a few things I learned during our trip. I should specify that it is about a 3 hour drive from our house to the park. So, I decided I would use a free hotel night I had and make it an overnight trip. We left on Tuesday and went to the park on Wednesday. Here are the things that I learned or observed during our trip.
Genuine Gratitude is Sweet
It was amazing to me how simple things, like going out to eat, are so appreciated by my kids. This is something we don’t do too much of and when we arrived at the restaurant my son could hardly contain his excitement. He got out the crayons and circled what he wanted, which actually reminded me of another meal I had with him alone. He read the price to me and asked if I had enough to pay for it. That was very sweet to me. He also told me not once, but at least half a dozen times, how much he liked that I took him on this trip. We even got dessert, which is something we never do. The lesson for me is that gratitude is awesome to receive and I should probably give more of it myself.
It is Truly the “Little Things in Life”
It is funny how often people will make comments about how simple-minded kids are. “I guess it is the little things in life” they will say. Well, I am here to tell you that it is. Having 4 pillows to yourself on a bed is invigorating. Swimming in a hotel pool is relaxing, especially when you have it all to yourself. Raiding the shelf of every flyer about every tourist location is important and makes for cheap gifts for the other kids. Buying a $5 slushy at the slushy bar and sitting in the shade together is money well spent.
My Son Wants to Drive
We spent the day at the park and rode the cars about 10 times. I remember how exciting it was for me to be able to drive something as a kid. In fact, after I rode a roller coaster that made my head spin, he told me to “chill out” for a while so he could ride the cars by himself. I let him and he even made a friend with some random kid in line. I should point out that when I was a kid I loved roller coasters. I could ride those things over and over again. I don’t know what happens when we get older, but I do know that my son was correct in his assessment of my need to chill. There were very few lines that day which meant we were able to get off a ride and go right back on. That is the dream of any ride enthusiast, but can be nauseating.
Stopping For Dinner After Bed-time Works Sometimes
The day was long and we left the park at about 6 p.m. Of course, there was an accident on the turnpike which made travel slower. We were both rather hungry since I was determined not to spend $25 on some deep-fried lunch for the two of us. We ate our slushy and shared an order of cheese fries and then stopped at Subway on the way home. It was the perfect end to the day and we only spent $13. He mentioned a few times how cool it was that his brothers were in bed and he was having dinner. “Is it dark at our house dad?” Keep in mind we were only about an hour and a half from home at that point.
Talking Non-Stop Means You had a Good Time
The next day he got up and talked non-stop about everything he did. He had a map that showed all of the things he did and he was happy to show that to his brother. I guess this means we will be going again sometime. He was about an inch short for the biggest roller coasters there, so he has something to look forward to next time.