Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Making memories, one obstacle at a time
Special to The Union
It only took one look on Facebook to realize spring break was in full swing recently.
Now that my kids are grown and living on their own, spring break does not mean what it used to. It used to be “lack of funds to go on vacation guilt.” Now it is vacation envy.
Nevada County families have packed up and traveled far and wide. As I scrolled through the photos of beaches and mountain hikes, the Golden Gate and Disneyland, I found myself thinking back to the stress that went with the making of family memories.
I look back on trips we took with our kids — usually with six of the seven in tow, sometimes with one or two of their friends joining us (once you are a party of eight or greater, what is one or two more?) and think what a wonder it is we survived at all.
Of course, there was no lack of the back-and-forth bickering, and a time or two when an all-out brawl ensued, and the time I had my husband take everyone to the lobby so I could have a quick cry, but really, for the most part, we all did remarkably well (cue the chardonnay.)
In 2003, my husband and I decided to take the children back East to learn more about where I come from and meet some extended family.
And, since we were already going to be in New York, we planned to spend a few days in New York City and since we were already going to be in NYC, we decided we may as well take that short jaunt to Washington, D.C. Just look on a map, they are practically next door to each other! What’s another five hours in the car when we have already traveled across the country?
The trip began at San Francisco International Airport where this party of eight made its way through security; 2003 was a highly charged time for the Transportation Security Administration, so of course it made perfect sense to pull the mom out of line for the body pat down.
They were probably punishing me for traveling with six children. I think they found a couple of ring pops and some Fruit by the Foot. Boarding the plane, we grouped the kids as best we could within shouting distance to one another and got ready for the long ride across the continent.
I really don’t recall any huge issues although the flight attendants may still be talking about it today.
We landed in Newark, New Jersey, and worked our way through baggage claim — that alone could have been a movie of the week — and then over to the car rental shuttle.
We rented the largest SUV available and loaded everyone in. The next challenge was cramming eight bodies into a hotel room designed for four. Yes, we were those people!
I was so concerned we would not be allowed to stay I had our identical twins go in separately, so anyone keeping track would only count them as one!
We did not have any issues with hotel security, but we did with towels and who got dibs on the foldout couch.
For the most part, people were encouraging and astonished. (Are they ALL yours?) We received many acts of kindness.
We received bulk rate discounts on gifts, took advantage of every kids menu or kids stay free program available, and were even taught to double up on the subway gate by the security guard in Manhattan.
Over the course of a week, our children saw the destruction left by the World Trade Center attack, they rode the Staten Island Ferry, went to Central Park, they walked the National Mall, sat at the Lincoln Memorial, whined their way through several of the Smithsonian exhibits and found a common joy in the Museum of Natural History. They had picnics with cousins and swam in East Coast lakes.
My brother Jim, who opened his home to us for our visit “upstate”, summed up what I felt but could never really explain: when our group of beleaguered travelers finally arrived and began unloading, he said, “Wow, six kids is a lot more in person than on paper!”
That it is.
As so many young families today are just recovering from the stress of the five-hour road trip, the meltdown outside of Bippity, Boppity, Boutique and the exhaustion of packing and unpacking, know that in the blink of eye, your favorite thing to hear your grown children say will be “remember the time we all went to …” You will be so glad you did.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is the business development manager at The Union. Contact her at email@example.com.
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