Monday, April 25, 2011

Who Takes Their Kids to London on a Lark?

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Apparently, we do. Deciding to listen to our own "advice" [Bite Me CNN] the part about how we've never regretted any money we've spent taking our kids on vacation, we took a crow bar to the savings account (read: put it on a credit card) and saddled up for a five day trip to Europe. (Because I work for an airline, this sort of insanity actually seems logical to us.)

It was supposed to be a surprise, you know, like "Wake-up, kids and pack your bags, cuz we're going on vacation!"

"Where?"

"Don't know yet."

Because that's how it is with standby travel. But mysteriously, several days beforehand the boys somehow became suspicious. I don't know how. Oh yeah, I remember now. It happened when my husband told them.

However, due to a snafu with my daughter's passport, which didn't arrive until one day before we wanted to leave, and which I cleverly intercepted from the mailman, none of the kids thought we'd be able to go, leaving the surprise in tact for everyone. And with thanks to the US Department of State, even my husband and me.

London was a logical (airline logical) choice in that it had three daily non-stop flights and the loads there and back looked good. So off we went.

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Unfortunately, some of the best comedic material can come from vacation mishaps. And unfortunately for this blog, we didn't have any. At least not any serious ones, unless you count the irony of arriving two minutes late at the Greenwich Observatory, just in time to see it close. And the jet-lag factor. (see Photo Exhibits A and B)
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I explained to my kids that I considered this trip "traveling," which differs from pure vacation (the beach!) in that inevitably you're way more exhausted when you return than when you left. Several times they tried talking us into going back to the hotel to sleep or watch a movie, and as appealing as that idea sounded to our fatigued fivesome, I argued we can watch movies and sleep anytime. In life, you never know when your next opportunity to see London at night from a four-hundred foot tall Ferris Wheel will come around again. (Photo Exhibit C)
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The lines were insane everywhere. It felt like all of Europe decided it was Go to London week (I suspect it was their spring break, too.) but the weather could not have been better, so standing "on line" or, if you prefer "queuing," only served to provide more fun family time. (Photo D)

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We had our share of quibbles and tiffs, but I was thrilled to see how well we travelled together as a family. My husband and I have both been to London many times for our jobs, so we were comfortable there, but all three of the kids were on unfamiliar ground, and therefore, as a rarity, on much more even ground. To watch them bonding as a threesome as they talked and grumbled and laughed when they walked along behind us brings a verklempt tear to acitymom's eye.

The memories and family time we had with children that will be out of the house before we know it have a value that far outweighs the poor exchange rate the dollar has against the pound. I won't say its worth is priceless, mostly because that's a bad writing cliche, but also because when those bills start rolling in you'll probably be able to hear my screams no matter where you are. I'm not an advocate for deficit spending by any stretch, but this one time I'll take that crowbar to our savings account with joy.
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