As Christmas break was coming to a close, I tried to squeeze in a quick overnighter. Mid-December was a bit of a blur as stomach flu circulated through the house. Christmas wasn't the flurry of activity for our family that it's been in the past. There was no celebration with my husband's side of the family as his father passed away about a year-and-a-half ago and his mom moved out of state in early December. On my side of the family, we don't have the grand Christmas holidays we celebrated at my sister's huge house in the west suburbs anymore. She moved to Arizona last year. My oldest brother wasn't there. We had a nice gathering, but it's just not the same when there are siblings missing who we are used to seeing every Christmas. We went to my younger sister's house, but it was several days after Christmas so it felt a little strange.
Anyway, I thought to make the time off a little more special, I would arrange to take the kids to a water park for a little fun. It was my husband and I and my four youngest boys. My oldest is an adult now and he rarely travels with us anymore. It makes me a little sad - as again, it just feels like something's missing - but he is either working or hanging out with friends or just opts to forego the bickering on the car ride that is bound to happen when you squeeze 7 people into an SUV for a road trip. Since my oldest usually doesn't go on trips with us anymore and because I have two teens that are growing quicker than I care them to, I savor these getaways when we have time all together.
So I got the bags packed and off we went to the water park. My 13-year-old (the overachiever) was genuinely upset that the trip was cutting into his time to work on his science project. We got to the hotel and first thing the 9 and 11-year-olds wanted to do was get in the water. Since it was getting close to dinner time I told them we'd head to the restaurant first and swim after that. We all enjoyed a nice meal and timed it well. We were all hungry, but hadn't yet hit diva status (remember that Snickers commercial that showed how hunger can turn the nicest person into a cranky, inconsolable diva) and enjoyed each other's company.
After dinner we returned to our room and I pulled out all the swimsuits. My husband had a busy night at work the day before and opted to stay in the room and rest. My 13-year-old told me he didn't want to swim. At all. During the two days there. "I really don't like to swim," he said. He expressed that he'd rather stay in the room. The 15-year-old was on the fence about swimming, but when his brother didn't want to go, he decided he'd stay in the room, too. The two youngest couldn't wait to get to the pool.
So, off the three of us went, leaving the other three behind in the room. As I floated around on the lazy river with nothing but my thoughts I came to the realization that the boys that I'd left behind in the room were moving on. They aren't into our little trips the way they used to be. They're too big for the children's museums and kid attractions. They are at an age when parents aren't all that fun to be with. Whereas a year ago we'd take trips and they would go with the flow and tag along and seem excited, this time it was apparent that they'd rather sit with their phones and play video games. I realized that I'm losing them. I'm losing them to the teen years. They're going into territory I can never pull them back from. They're growing up.