We finally achieved vacation nirvana, or at least the closest we will come for the forseeable future with Earbaby. My husband and I couldn't believe it, but EB actually spent time with us for a week in Florida at our favorite spot, complained only minimally, rolled her eyes infrequently, and thanked us repeatedly. Yes, you read those last three words correctly. She thanked us repeatedly.
Now, the rest of the story.
A couple of months ago, when my husband first started making plans for spring vacation, I asked him if he might consider allowing EB to bring a friend along. Our vacation spot is a beautiful Gulf Coast town in Florida, too rich for our blood to consider as a retirement destination, but nice and quiet enough for R & R. We had gone almost every year since he and I have been together, save for the year of EB's birth, last year when she was in Europe, and maybe one other year when the timing just wasn't right. She knows the island and loves any condo we rent, but truthfully, there's not much for a teenager to do. The prospect of having to spend a week in paradise listening to her complain about being bored filled me with a little bit of dread.
It must have struck my better half the same way, because he readily agreed. We had talked about this when she was much younger, and it seems that time has come. Usually Beth is the go-to best friend for travels, but she already had other plans for the spring break. When I asked EB if she might want to bring someone, she immediately asked for Delilah, with whom she happened to be actively texting at the time (aren't they always actively texting someone?).
The answer was immediate. Yes! She could come! And EB was grateful and ecstatic.
Delilah is also an only child and has slept over several times. She and EB are close, but EB has many close friends and usually more than one friend is staying over at a time (or she joins a group of people who invade other homes for sleepovers). Her main worry for a couple of months was keeping it quiet so there wouldn't be hurt feelings from those who weren't invited. And yes, the plane ticket was a little expensive, but it was, in the long run, a very small price to pay.
Since my husband and I both have siblings, I am constantly worried about EB being lonely when we're no longer around. The ship has long sailed to have another child, although I've already told him that my lottery dream is a bigger house, and a whole lot more kids. Every horror story about abused children makes me wish for the opportunity to become a foster parent, although realistically, with two parents working full time and living in a cracker box house, it's not feasible.
But should I ever really win some money, I'm retiring immediately, and we're moving into a great big old shoe!
Anyway, I had two babies for a week at least. Delilah and EB have their own language the way teenagers do. Because they go to school together and share friends, although no classes this year, there were nonstop snapchats, instagrams, texting and various data-eating activities. Because they were also narrating their vacation time with their friends back home. It's funny how this generation lives in the moment, while simultaneously recording it for posterity. It's like the millennials are on one long episode, like the movie The Truman Show.
But I marveled at the simple words my husband and I heard all week -- Thank you.
Having Delilah along also gave us more access to EB. When you're an only child, conversation with your parents may feel like you're being ganged up on. A simple conversation suddenly turns into a lecture, an argument, and ends in sullen silence. When your friend is with you, your parents are probably on their best behavior (!) so there are no lectures or harangues, conversations don't suddenly take a turn for the worst, there are easy four-way exchanges, and your friend thinks your parents are these cool, interesting people.
And the two only children were also OK taking out time for solitude without the anxiety of one believing the other was angry.
We did a whole lot of nothing last week. And yes, that included the homework they were assigned (I still believe it's unconscionable to assign homework during school breaks, we all need real down time). But they got right back to it on the way home, tanned, relaxed and rejuvenated.
After Delilah's mom picked her up at the airport, I turned to EB and said, "Oh no, I had two babies for a whole week, and now I only have one!" She rolled her eyes (first time all week!), but then laughed and told Delilah what I said. Yes, they're already planning to do this again next spring break. I'm open to it. I could do this again easily. EB's friends are always delightful, funny, respectful, grateful, and intelligent human beings. I've heard rumors she's like that too, when she's not with us. And after her repeated words of gratitude, I can now finally believe it.