The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

June 22, 2012

LEVINE: Vacation provides memories, lessons

CLINTON — I found out early this week that vacations are a little different from a parent’s perspective.

My family had a couple days off this week, so we trekked over to Adventureland in Altoona and stayed for a few nights in the theme park’s resort.

This was our first real family vacation since our daughter was born, and on Sunday, we were greeted with the realities of traveling with a 2-year-old.

Along the way, we learned some lessons, that will no doubt come in handy during our next vacation.

Don’t stay next to a pool

We stayed right next to the pool area in the hotel, so of course, we wanted to jump in right away. Time flew by and before we knew it, the clock had already turned past 8:30 p.m.

Normally, our daughter is in bed by 7 p.m. Much like her mom and dad, she needs a solid rest to have a good day, so when we realized it would be near 9 p.m. before we would even lay her down, we began to worry about the productivity of our vacation.

And since this was our first time ever staying in the same room without having anywhere else to go to help her fall asleep, our first night was turning into a minor crisis.

By the time we finally got our daughter in her pajamas and the lights were off, we realized a major drawback to being right next to the pool. Most kids obviously don’t have an early bed time on vacation, so the noise didn’t help soothe our daughter to bed, even though the lights were dark enough that I eventually fell asleep at 9:30 p.m. (which could be a world record for going to sleep while on a trip).

But the fun-filled noises permeating from outside and the opportunity to sleep next to Mom and Dad were too much for our daughter. She was too excited and there weren’t enough renditions of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” to help drift her to sleep.

By the time 10 p.m. rolled around, we began to rethink our strategy of letting her slumber in the big bed, while her pack and play crib sat in the corner, screaming for us to remove it from its resting spot.

But finally, a little after 10 p.m., with the assistance of a brief discussion from me about the importance of a good night’s rest, she fell asleep, only to awaken the room at 6:50 a.m., ready for the excitement to begin.

Before we even made it to breakfast that morning, we were all on edge. Little sleep, combined with a long day of walking in 100-degree heat was too much to handle at 8 a.m. when the rest of vacation-goers were still sleeping.

However, in an unprecedented move, on our way home from breakfast something magical happened. Our daughter took a nap, and in the world of parenting, there’s no better gift than a well-timed nap. Needless to say, that roughly hour-long siesta may have saved our trip.

Measure your child

So this didn’t exactly apply to us in particular, but it had us nervous for about 45 minutes.

Our daughter isn’t tall enough for most of the rollercoasters and high thrill rides, but she just cleared the second tier of rides that require children to be taller 36 inches; at least that’s what we found out after waiting in line for almost an hour for the Raging River ride.

Other families weren’t so lucky.

We figured she was taller than that threshold, but we assumed if she was close enough they would let her on, so we didn’t worry about it at first. Then we saw ride coordinators escorting out toddlers like a criminal on death row, and we began to question our daughter’s height.

After comparing her height to other children, we were getting less confident so we devised a plan to have my wife carry her over to the raft, disguising her as looking a little taller than she appears.

Our plan didn’t work, since the drill sergeant (aka ride coordinator) forced my wife to let go of our daughter, setting up a matchup between her and the measuring stick.

Luckily, my daughter doesn’t take after me, and she beat the stick, allowing her to ride most of the rides.

Kids do better than adults

I had never ridden on the tea cups, mostly because I assumed they were for little kids and I was too tough for them.

I was wrong, and so was the poor man in the other tea cup.

My daughter couldn’t wipe the smile off her face, while I focused on keeping my breakfast in my stomach and the other gentleman with his grandchild wasn’t faring too well in the other tea cup.

For not being an experienced rider, I was constantly surprised about how well my daughter did on everything, especially since some of those rides appeared intimidating at first.

Since this vacation showed me that my daughter has little fear, I now know when we return in the future, and I am her riding partner, I will make sure to stay away from breakfast buffets.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald.

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