By Diane Ako
I ended up coming down with a mild cold on Friday, which was the same day Olivia bonked her head. We got home from the ER early Saturday morning, and we were tired. We decided to stay in at Karen's in the morning while everyone else went to Griffith Observatory. Which, by the way, they really liked.
I, however, am glad I did the disciplined thing. We were both sick and tired, and I ended up giving us both a nap in the afternoon, before Val and family returned and we headed home on an evening flight.
I had a very nice time. I would do it again. Val and I both breathed a sigh of relief that it all went well; it was our first time traveling together, and you never know how you'll mesh in different settings.
Luckily, it was free of emotional drama, though we were surprised and amused to see that the two youngest ones, Olivia and Carson, got so comfortable with each other, midway thought the trip they started fight. All the time. Pushing, shoving, taking, grabbing, name calling- everything but biting (thank goodness.)
It's nice to go as a group; you share resources and discounts. You split the costs. You share the chores. You help mind each other's children.
What I also learned was how completely different it is to travel with a gaggle of children. There just isn't time to talk to each other. Days are spent making sure nobody is getting run over by cars, or stolen at crowded parks.
Aunty Diane and Carson
In fact, there was one day when a miscommunication led to some panicky moments of what we thought was a lost child. Now that was not fun. I was constantly counting heads to make sure we had everyone, and I'm sure the other adults were too.
Because we kept such long hours, by nightfall, I'd be too tired to call home. Olivia and I would leave the park at around 8 or 9, and after eating dinner at Denny's next door, then showers and toothbrushing, it'd be 10 or 11 by the time I was ready to think about calling anyone.
Actually, I got her ready first and then put her in bed, on speakerphone with the grandparents or her dad. I'd warn them that I wasn't there to assist the conversation, so if there was a silence on Olivia's part, just work around it. Then I'd continue my own bedtime routine.
When I finally would call Claus, we'd talk for about three minutes. I started the habit of texting or e mailing Claus during the day to share updates or fun moments (photos included) so that I wouldn't actually have to speak to him. My dad isn't as tech savvy, so I would just call home and let my worry-wart mother know we were safely in bed before hanging up.
Put differently: one night, Claus and I started a phone call in which he told me he was spraying some cabinets for termites. Then I had to hang up because it was time for Val and me to walk down and get our laundry. On the way down, Val asked what's new. I relayed the termite information.
"You should tent the house," she advised.
When I called Claus back some 15 minutes later, I told him what Val said, with a revelation: "By the way, that's been our only scrap of adult conversation on this whole trip."
In Captain Eo
That's not much of an exaggeration. Most of the times that words came out of my mouth, it was to issue commands at short people, or to communicate with military-efficiency about our daily agenda. There just isn't the energy to sit around and converse.
It's actually easier to watch Olivia at home, because here, aside from having some sitter help, she will take naps, in which I can have one blessed hour of peace and quiet.
At Reagan Museum
Previous trips for me have been about relaxation or exploration. Relaxing, it absolutely wasn't. Exploratory, it kind of was, for Olivia and I were able to discover new common ground with our relatives, and explore a deeper connection with family members we love.
Also reach me at DianeAko.com