The Joy of the Family Outing

As I look back on my childhood, I realize that many of my best memories came from the shared misery my sisters and I endured.

Sharing the back seat of a Volvo for numerous trips to my uncle’s dairy farm, often with bags of cow manure for my father’s organic garden in the trunk.

We had to come up with ways to fight the boredom of those five-hour car trips with only two scheduled pit stops and nothing more than some 8-track tapes and each other for entertainment.

There were the times one of us dared to ask for a pet hamster,bird, or tropical fish.

My father would send us to the library, and we would have to find and read all the information we could find on the particular species we were interested in, including how to care for it.

After we completed our research, we would pile back into the Volvo and drive all over Long Island looking for pet stores that carried the animal one of us decided we had to have.

Then we would spend hours looking at the different varieties of said pet and have to ask the poor souls who worked at the store the questions we came up with from our research.

Let me say, we never ended up buying any of these animals, and my father never even had to use the word no. The man is a genius.

I was starting to feel guilty that my husband and I really hadn’t put our own three children through much shared suffering.

Years from now what would our kids talk about at holiday dinners? What material are we giving them if any one of them wants to write their own blog or mommy dearest tell-all best seller?

Joe and I decided that in order to give our kids a proper childhood, they too would have to endure a little pain.

That is why we decided to make all three of them pile into our minivan and tortured them with a family outing to the beach.

I know. We’re horrible, horrible parents. Feel free to inform the authorities now, though I’m pretty sure our 15-year-old beat you to it.

In our defense I will say that after weeks of the worst winter New York has had in years, a strange ball of fire, which I am told is the sun,appeared in the sky. Since all five of us have been cooped up in our house for weeks, it seemed like a good idea to celebrate this blessed event with a walk on the boardwalk.

Visions of fresh air, children running free, and a little family-bonding time danced in my head.

To be fair we did get some of this. In fact the kids looked liked sprung inmates as they ran far ahead of us. I even heard some laughter.

I turned to Joe and said, “Here’s our chance. Let’s make a break for it.” He reminded me that we actually wanted to have children.

We also endured some epic complaining from our teenager. Tom couldn’t believe that we not only had the nerve to think up this diabolical plan to spend time as a family, but we actually were going to carry through with it.

We gave him a choice, come with us or go without your iPhone for a month.

He gave his unconditional surrender immediately.

You’ll all be happy to know that all three of our children survived this ordeal and, to a degree, even enjoyed it. Though Tom said he will never admit this in public.

Joe and I were so proud of ourselves for giving our kids something they could complain about for years that we have decided to make it a weekly event.

Never let it be said that we didn’t do everything we could for our children.



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