We strive to make our vacations memorable, wonderful times which our children will look back upon with fondness.
We don’t want them to forget all the fun we had and the time we spent together as a family.
Well, they ain’t gonna forget the start to this one. That’s for darn sure.
Getting out the door to vacation is never quite as easy as it sounds. Of course there’s the packing of clothes and personal items, but as you know, when you go to the beach with kids there’s nearly a Uhaul truck full of junk you must take with you. I’ve put some thoughts down about this before:
Anyway, here we are trying to get out the door. And to be totally honest with you (lest you put me on some pedestal I most definitely do NOT deserve and you’ll agree after you finish reading this), people were irritated and it was my fault. I wasn’t ready when I vowed to be ready. Our schedule was off already.
Strike One for Mom.
But finally, we’re loaded and in the car, somewhat happily rolling down the highway...seven whole minutes to the Express Oil Change to get new oil for the van.
More delays, though I’m not responsible for this one.
But do kids care who’s responsible for holding up their journey to the beach?
Strike Two for Mom.
We had a pleasant experience because the guys working with the van were very nice and friendly and even gave the girls candy.
Happy campers all the way around.
Just before my husband pulled out, he opened his door to go to the back of the van and make sure the back hatch was completely closed.
The employee standing at the open driver’s side door began to snicker.
I followed his gaze to the bubble gum melted in several spots into the leather of the driver’s seat.
I immediately relived the ridiculous moment when I had removed my gum while driving earlier in the day and placed it on a piece of paper next to me. Why didn’t I wrap it up? Or just throw it out the window even? I’ll never know. Brain lapse due to childbearing, I suppose. Apparently, when I had gotten out of the car and taken the trash with me, the gum had fallen off the paper and onto the seat.
There was no way I could, in good conscience, pin this one on the kids. It was clearly my gum. I always have the sugar free mint chocolate chip.
The oil guy sprayed some degreaser on the gum and started rubbing furiously, but to no avail. That stuff was stuck and would take some real time and effort to remove.
He backed away from the van just as my unsuspecting husband plopped back into the driver’s seat, thanked the man for his help with the oil, and pulled out onto the road.
“Who’s ready to go to the beach?” he asked everyone cheerfully.
A moment later.
“What’s that smell?” he asked.
What to do? Turn myself in and confess my sins or, as some of us mothers have done but would never admit to outsiders, let the kids take the wrap?
I must say this is much more difficult to do in good conscience now that my children comprehend what’s going on around them and are, you know, able to speak. Unfortunate.
At that moment, I realized I couldn’t do that to my children. Rats. Integrity and all that. The three-year-old in our midst would’ve been the perfect scapegoat.
Suddenly he lifted up just enough in his seat and felt the leather to discover the truth. His hand was covered in sticky, gooey gum.
To say he was less than happy would be a slight simplification of the truth. For you see, we had left a night early for vacation so that he could have dinner with a client a few hours away. He was wearing the only pair of pants he had packed.
Strike three for Mom. And this was a big strike.
Now you have to understand my husband is very docile. Hardly ever loses his cool. NEVER yells. He’s the picture of serenity most of the time.
But this? This was just more than he could handle after a late start, fussy, impatient kids, and hunger because he’d missed lunch.
He immediately pulled over at the closest gas station. The rest of us were sitting in total silence. He had not yet spoken.
He (somewhat) screeched into a parking spot and threw open the door.
And this is the moment where things got really bad.
When he climbed out of his seat and stood in the parking lot, long strands of sticky gum followed him, adhered like concrete to the back of his pants.
But even that didn’t really get to him. I think what really did it, what sent him over the edge, was the sound of my inappropriate and highly unsuccessful attempt to conceal my laughter.
It didn’t help matters any when the little people in the backseat began snickering as well.
He charged into the gas station, threw down some money to buy a pack of baby wipes, and stormed back out to the car.
He began scrubbing furiously as I just sat, knowing the best thing for me to do in that moment (other than disappear) was to just BE QUIET. Stay out of the way.
But I just couldn’t help it. It was like trying to hold back a fire in a field of dry hay. Not gonna happen.
I began making choking sounds and snorts as I tried my very hardest not to laugh. It was miserable because the harder I tried, the more I failed.
This was when he snapped, people. I’ve only witnessed it a couple of times in our 12 years of marriage and four years of dating.
He pulled off his jeans right there in the parking lot. All that was left was a dress shirt and boxers. He was clearly past the point of reason.
Three little girls watched thru the van windows, wide eyed and open mouthed.
Our three-year-old watched him with great admiration. Shedding clothes is her specialty, after all. Suddenly she had found her mentor and hero.
He threw the jeans into my lap, quickly followed by the wipes, and I took that as a clear non-verbal to try to remove the gum from the seat of his britches.
I got to work, trying in vain to hold back giggles every five seconds or so.
“Daddy’s naked,” said a little voice from the back.
“No, he’s not. Shhh,” I replied, scrubbing the jeans thru my laughter induced tears.
This went on for about ten minutes or so. The problem was that every time I glanced over at his bare legs I would break into a whole new round of belly laughter, which did nothing but make the poor man even more upset. And the more agitated he became, the funnier it was to me.
I am just that kind of person. The more inappropriate it would be to laugh, the more I just really, really have to do just that.
It’s hard to believe sometimes that I am a mother. My maturity level and sense of humor is just not conducive to kindness and gentleness.
At one point I said, “honey, what are you going to say if you get pulled over right now driving like this? Don’t you think you’d be embarrassed?”
“No. He’d take one look at this situation and let me off.”
I regret to say the gum did not, in the end, all come out of his pants. We did, however, manage to clean the leather seats and enjoy the slight odor of the degreaser spray the helpful Oil Express guy tried to use.
So yes, this is one vacation experience my children are sure to remember. The time mommy left gum on the seat and daddy sat on it and ended up driving in his boxer shorts.
But most of all, they’ll remember their mother sitting in the passenger seat, tears rolling and laughter billowing at the scene before her.
You will see from this photo that my sweet, gum covered husband did forgive me. He even chuckled a little in the car after a while because I was laughing so hard (though he would deny it).
Family vacation. The stuff memories are made of.