Local view: Traveling with kids is many things, just not relaxingNine days in paradise sounds like a dream come true, especially after a Minnesota winter, right? That’s what I thought when I booked my family’s trip this summer. I must have forgotten who I was going with, though, because nothing is ever, ever what it seems when you have seven kids.
By: Moriah Erickson, Duluth News Tribune
Nine days in paradise sounds like a dream come true, especially after a Minnesota winter, right? That’s what I thought when I booked my family’s trip this summer. I must have forgotten who I was going with, though, because nothing is ever, ever what it seems when you have seven kids.
Nine days in the Florida Keys sounded relaxing, but little did I know that in these nine days there would be thunderstorms, near-flood conditions, hermit crab and gecko invasions, a visit from the sheriff and his staff, and more new curse words than I thought I could learn from a 4-year-old.
Traveling with seven children and only two adults requires more patience than I have. We traveled in the style of the president and vice president, in separate planes, splitting the kids as evenly as I thought possible. I was armed with only a special “monkey” (leash) for my 3-year-old, which then was used to drag the limp, temper-tantrumming child down the jetway while carrying the baby and my luggage. I heaved a sigh of relief as I fastened everyone’s seat belts.
Three hours later we touched down in the land of the Mouse. The kids were starstruck, not by the Mouse, but by the difference between Florida and Minnesota. Sweatshirts and cloudy skies were traded for palm trees and open windows.
The deluge started when we stopped at our fourth rest stop. Blue skies turned grey and stretched out as far as we could see over the swamps. “Alligator Alley, next gas available 78 miles.” Rain intermixed with more rain, and rain so hard it should have been hail. Humidity and more rain. Not to mention nothing on the radio besides opera and salsa music, so it was the girls’ One Direction CD on repeat. Zane and Rudy attempted to out-curse each other, which was pretty entertaining for only the first hour. We decided then to play the silence game. I won. Go figure.
By the time we made it to the house we rented on Key Colony Beach, I was ready to put my head into the oven. Luckily, it was an electric oven. We had stopped to use the bathroom 11 times, had gotten gas twice (due to the Alligator Alley scare) and had not seen one drop of famous Florida sunshine. I had answered the same questions again and again, heard the same stories over and over and refereed some of the most obnoxious arguments to which I have ever borne witness. I was certainly relieved that we had decided not to drive all the way from Duluth.
By day three of continuous downpour mixed with only volatile thunderstorms and near-flood conditions, I had given up trying to keep seven children entertained. They had swum in the rain, sat in the hot tub in the rain, fished in the rain and gone to the beach in the rain.
The children were bored quickly by television, so they disappeared to play in one of the bedrooms. About 10 minutes later, one of the older girls emerged and tattled that Nora was playing on the phone. I told her to “be in charge” and take it away; after all, she was 12 and Nora was 3. She retreated to the bedroom, looking sheepish.
Shortly thereafter, Ava reported to us that there was a “man” there. My husband went out onto the back patio to be met by a Monroe County Sherriff’s deputy responding to a 911 hang-up call. He was very displeased-looking in his yellow rain slicker. He chastised us for “letting” our child play with the telephone.
After he left, the sun came out, like a beacon. With it came out all the geckoes and hermit crabs that had been seeking refuge in our tropical landscaping. The kids put on their suits and didn’t take them off, save for bedtime, for the rest of the trip.
Traveling with children poses challenging obstacles, but once a destination is reached and everyone starts having fun, it is worth most travel woes. Just don’t expect a vacation with kids to be anywhere near “relaxing.”
Moriah Erickson is a writer and respiratory therapist for Essentia Health who lives in Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood with her husband, Brian, a self-employed flooring contractor; their voiceless hound dog, Huckleberry; and their seven children.