I'm told that when you spend 48 hours cramming suitcases and food and toys and blankets into your minivan and then head out of town with your kids, it's not a holiday. It's a trip.
A holiday is for sipping drinks at 10am and taking those obnoxious pictures of the lower half of your legs while looking out onto palm trees. A holiday is for getting massages and eating nachos and overusing phrases like "beer-thirty." A holiday is for pools and sun and servants, lots and lots of servants.
Trips are just like that, except for everything.
We just spent a week at the cabin with Mary's siblings, spouses and their kids. That's six adults and seven kids ages 13 and under.
There were some magical moments, like each time we crawled into bed at night, and the unexpected seven-minute nap on Thursday. And the time the log jumped out of the fire and almost landed on the 7-year-old. Or the thousand times that the 4-year-old used the red and white plastic boat to mercilessly bludgeon his cousins. Or the time(s) the 10-year-old locked herself in her room and texted her demands. Or when our three boys threw a box of tampons in the toilet. Or every meal.
Perhaps my favourite was when the other 4-year-old punched me in the head while simultaneously kicking me in the wedding tackle, simply because we wouldn't let him ride back from the beach in "Adam and Susie's van."
By far the best moment every day was when the kids were finally in bed, and the adults all gathered upstairs to laugh, moan about our sore, ageing bodies, and relive every precious part of that day. Our defenses lowered, the smiles came out, and we did our best to stay awake until 10 p.m.. These moments fooled us; they started to feel like a holiday.
And then it happened.
The 6-year-old had somehow broken out of his basement prison and was now standing in the middle of a holiday.
"Um, what are you doing out of your room?" My question was curt and demanding, devoid of any fatherly kindness or compassion.
"Ligey crawled into Ben's bed and started punching him, and now Ben is really crying."
That would never happen on holiday. But on a trip, it's on the printed out daily agenda that your kids give you upon arrival.
So I took the 6-year-old back down into his basement prison/bedroom, and began asking questions.
"Ligey, did you crawl into Ben's bed and beat him senseless?"
"No, Isaac did."
"I did not! I did not!"
After my riveting lecture on how we don't use our hands for hitting, I decided I needed to lay the smack down, but my mouth moved faster than my mind.