I was on vacation last week with some of my wife’s family and they have younger children in the 6 – 9 years old range. It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with kids that age, as my kids are now 17 and 20. It didn’t take me long to realize there are some major differences between my kids and the others.
The first difference was being woken up by kids at 6:00 in the morning. At that early hour, they are up and ready to go. You’re still sleeping? Not for long! They tried to stay quiet, but after about ten minutes of progressively louder whispering they started talking in their regular, middle-of-the-day voices. They obviously didn’t get the memo that it is alright to sleep past the normal time they get up for school. I usually get up at 6:00 AM for work, but I’d be very content to sleep past that time for a week or two. So I lose a few hours of the day by sleeping in, but who cares? I mean, it’s VACATION! My son could sleep until 10:00 or 11:00 (maybe even noon) and not feel bad about it. Of course, he’s not going to bed at 8:00 – 9:00 PM either, so I guess there is a tradeoff there.
The next difference is that younger kids go in and out of the house about a thousand times a day. And they slam the door every time! Not long after eating breakfast they are out to ride their bikes (slam!). After a few minutes one of them needs a drink of water, so he or she comes back in (slam!). Guzzle down that water and it’s time to get back outside like there’s a 30-second time limit on the break (slam!). Then someone realizes that someone else just went in for water, so they come in to get a drink, too (slam!). Repeat this process for every kid (slam!) multiple times (slam, slam, slam!) and…well, you get the picture. My kids either stay in the house, or when they go out there’s a quiet click as the door closes and we don’t see them or hear them for two or three hours. When they come back they quietly close the door. Ah, that’s nice.
The last difference is that younger kids get bored during the day. What? Bored? Did I mention that it’s VACATION? I guess that having fun for hours at a time gets old pretty quick for younger kids. You can only ride your bike, play games, watch movies, go to the beach and goof around for so long, and then it gets monotonous. Throw in breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between, and it seems like a pretty good day to me. I have a remedy for the boredom: sleep later and there won’t be as many hours to fill! That would take care of a couple of issues at the same time. We’d all be able to sleep later and the kids wouldn’t be so bored.
Now I don’t want it to sound like it was all bad or negative, because it wasn’t. It was actually a really great week. I had fun with the kids at the beach and I love to listen to them as they tell me about things from their perspective. I got to spend some time with both my own kids, which doesn’t happen as much as I’d like these days. I got to spend some time with my in-laws, both of whom are kind, generous and entertaining. Last, but not least important, my wife and I got to spend a lot of time together, without the usual stuff that gets in the way at home, like work and schedules. You can’t beat that.
The week flew by and it wasn’t long before I was back to the real world. It’s at times like those that I sometimes wish I was still a kid, where vacation is not just a week or two, but the whole summer, and where I’d have so much time in the day to do whatever I wanted that I’d get bored. I’d just have to remember to close the door quietly on my way out.