Childhood Memory


One winter, when I was about six years old, every kid in my family came down with a series of diseases. Measles, followed by chicken pox, followed by mumps. For three months my mother was stuck in the house with four little girls covered by some sort of bumps and dealing with a fever. We were hot, itchy, cooped up, and miserable. We all fell ill, like dominoes, one after the other. How my mother kept her sanity is beyond me. And to make things even more stressful, my dad was out in the field with the US Army and we were stationed in Germany with no family to help. I don’t remember a lot about that winter, except for one shining moment.

I got well first. I cannot tell you how great it was to not itch, and to be able to go outside. For Christmas, my older sister and I got our first bicycles. We were too sick to ride them for weeks after Christmas. I got to ride my bike before my sister got to be outdoors. I remember riding it up and down the sidewalk outside our flat, looking up at the third floor window where my sisters all stood watching me. As the second child, I rarely got to do anything first. I was chuffed beyond words. All three stood scowling at me, and I have to admit I was feeling pretty cocky that I was out and they were still in itchy hell. I was six, give me a break and don’t judge. As an adult, I know it was cheeky and rude, but as a child, I just felt empowered.

It wasn’t long before all four of us were well and back to running in and out of the house like we usually did. The memories of being miserable faded, and my special moment did too. We were finally back in school, and I know my mother was happy beyond words to have survived the winter of illness. Spring came and we were outside more than inside the house. In fact, we didn’t want to be indoors if we could avoid it. With spring came our usual battles with the Jones kids. We hated the Jones kids, they were bullies and meaner than a ticked off snake. Debra was the only girl, and she decided she was going to make my little sister’s life hell. Her closest sibling was Billy, he was twelve, my older sister was seven, and I was six. It was our job to look after the two younger girls. Billy would pick on us every time his sister started being rude or hateful and we put her in her place. I have always been, and will always be, a sarcastic smart mouth.

One afternoon on the playground, I got into it with Debra again. Billy started in on my sister, and I jumped in with a bowling pin. I have no idea where the wooden pin came from, but it was perfect to beat the snot out of Billy. So I set to, and he went home to whine to his mother. About that time, my mother turned up on the playground, (my next younger sister was always a tattle tale) to see what was going on. Mrs. Jones started shouting out her window at my mother. Mrs. Jones was probably close to six feet tall and weighed in at well over 200 pounds. My mother was five feet four inches tall and weighed about 110 pounds. Mom told Mrs. Jones that if she wanted a fight to get her fat @$$ down stairs and she would be happy to oblige her. She wouldn’t come down, and Mom was more than ready to go up and drag her out by her hair. But the other moms got her to calm down. No one insulted her girls. Now you know where I get my bad attitude and willingness to take on anyone. My sister and I got a reputation for fighting. Most people left us alone, except for the Jones brats and a girl called Rita.

Rita was bigger than my sister and I, since we tended to be on the shrimpy side. One day walking home from school she ambushed us. It wasn’t a long fight, my sister pretty much ended it before it got started, darn it. Rita’s problem was her dirty mouth and the way she thought she could talk to anyone that way. In our family, if we had sworn like that, my mother would have made us eat a bar of soap. The problem was that we wouldn’t put up with it from anyone else either. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well when my parents found out we had been fighting again. We followed the house rule of never starting a fight, but we sure as hell finished one. I guess my attitude was built into my genes. My dad and mother were scrappers in school, my sons were also willing to take on a fight anytime, and at least one of my grandchildren is a scrapper too. Thinking back on those days it is a wonder my dad didn’t get into trouble due to our fighting. Of course, one look at my tiny sister and the almost as tiny me, and every boy we fought with had a very embarrassed Dad since two skinny girls beat the stuffing out of their big brave boy.

I fought less as I grew older, but the years between six and eight were the banner years for my hot temper. I learned to control it better, but I never managed to curb the smart mouth and sarcastic comments that fell out of it regularly. Looking back, I was a bit of a bad ass. It tends to make me smile when I think back on those days.

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Your Attitude Makes or Breaks the Vacation.


While on the cruise recently, I was amazed at the number of children on board. Over seven hundred in all. They came in ages from tiny babies (Why anyone would do that is beyond me) to teenagers. The thing I found interesting, is that with all those kids, there were very few meltdown tantrums among them. Generally, when kids get over tired, over stimulated, out of their normal routine, or in a strange place, tantrums, tears, meltdowns, and stubborn acting out ensues among them. We didn’t see that in the smallest kids, nor in the kids between five and twelve. However, teenagers of all ages and adults were absolutely invested in tantrums and meltdowns from the first moment we were at sea.

Couples were arguing with each other, parents were telling off children for no apparent reason, and teenagers, well, you know teenagers, everything that wasn’t on their phone or tablet was a reason for meltdowns and irritation. Shocking. Annoying. Hilarious. Immature. Generally undeserved by the person whom the tantrum was directed at and embarrassing to watch an adult act like a tired two year old on too much sugar. I don’t get it, really, I thought a family vacation was supposed to be relaxing and fun. Apparently not for anyone between thirteen and fifty, according to the melt down count down.

I expected frowny faces and bad attitudes in children, but it was the parents who had the, “I hate the world” faces. Unless, of course, they were eating, drinking alcohol, or hanging out in the smoking areas. It was easy to tell that most of the parents couldn’t wait for the Kid’s Clubs to open so they could park their progeny there until meal times and escape to do adult stuff. Teenagers clumped together in pools of dissatisfied texting groups as long as they had access to the ship’s texting program, and when they didn’t they sat in glum silence playing games on their phones, ignoring the swimming pools, mini golf, and other activities available for them from dawn to dusk. It was as if they wanted to be bored and dissatisfied with everything. I don’t get that either.

We had a great time from playing with Addie in the pools to mini golf, to talking to the server in the buffet room who chatted with us about Philippine food for a good half hour. Addie loved the Kid’s Club, and while she was making friends there, we had a good time relaxing and wandering around the ship. We laughed a lot, held hands, teased each other, chatted with other passengers, and simply allowed ourselves to enjoy the moment. When the three of us were together, it was clear that I was the odd one out since Addie is in the “I Adore My Papa” stage of her life, so I read a book and let them rush about doing things like water slides and such. And the bonus was that Addie didn’t have one single moment dedicated to being in a rotten mood. She was dog tired by bedtime, but there were no complaints. She would climb into her top bunk, roll over and go to sleep in moments. She did get up one night to go have pizza and ice cream in the “middle of the night” around ten p.m. She got a huge kick out of that. Even after pizza and ice cream, she climbed right back into bed and went to sleep in five minutes.

Meanwhile, every time we took her to the Kid’s Club, there would be a parent there ranting about something, embarrassing their child who couldn’t wait to escape mom or dad and go play somewhere stress free. The last time we picked Addie up, the ladies who worked in the Club gave us a note telling us how much they enjoyed time with Addie. She was polite, kind, sharing, and friendly to everyone and she was very respectful to the adults working in the Club. Everywhere we engaged with crew, they always complimented us on Addie’s behavior. Our server in the restaurant made her origami dinosaurs and the steward for our room went out of his way to make her adorable towel animals on the bed everyday. I know they must miss their children terribly since they are at sea for nine months at a time. Addie was unfailingly polite to all the adults with whom she interacted. We raised her to be polite and kind, and to always use her manners. The rest is all her doing.

I am not saying she was the best kid, there were lots of kids who were good. There were also rude and mouthy kids who talked back to adults, didn’t listen to the crew when they were told not to do something or to do something, and who ran wild because their parents didn’t care what they did as long as they didn’t bother them or get into trouble with the crew who would then bother them. That I really don’t get. As a parent, grandparent or guardian, I want to know what my kid is up to every second of the day. They don’t have to be under my feet, and I don’t hover, but I keep an eye on them. It is very easy to injure themselves on a ship filled with stairs, heavy doors, and over three thousand people on board.

I suppose people brought their daily issues to the ship with them. We try to leave all that on the shore and have a new and exciting experience. This was Addie’s first cruse, we wanted it to be positive, fun, and something she would want to do again. I guess we did it right. She can’t wait to go on another one as soon as possible. As for the grumpy folks who turned their holiday into a whine fest, I’m sorry they were such a miserable group. They missed an opportunity to have a great time. Especially the teenagers who were determined to hate everything from not having internet connections to having to be around their parents and siblings for more than five minutes a day. Oh well, what goes around comes around. Next time they want to have a good holiday, Mom and Dad have an excuse to make it as miserable as they possibly can just because they want to.

Meanwhile, the Combs Family will be the three people trying to catch the wind while walking on the deck or eating ice cream and pizza at ten at night just because we can.

Ornaments and Traditions


Every year since we got married in 1971, the day after Thanksgiving is when we start decorating for Christmas. No matter how broke, despondent, worried, angry, or disappointed our life is at that moment, we begin to build our home into a happy place designed to celebrate the traditions of our families and the birth of Jesus Christ.

Over the years, we have collected many decorations, some made by our children and grandchildren, some bought in the far off places we have lived and traveled to, some handed down from friends and family. Each one is a treasure, carefully packed away every year to be brought out and rediscovered the following year. As time goes by, some of them get a bit worn and tattered, but they still go on the best place for them on the tree. As I see them being hung by my family and myself, memories flow through my mind about how and when they came to be part of our tradition.

I have twelve cloisonne bells that were given to me as a gift when we lived in Hong Kong, each one has a slightly different sound when it rings. I have a set of lovely hand carved Angel ornaments that I bought when we were visiting Bruge, Belgium. And the lace ornaments that I bought in different countries to make a special collection is beautiful. But the ornaments that I love the most are the ones made by my children and grandchildren, and now, great grandchildren. Some were made at school, others were made in scouts or as projects we did together as a family. They aren’t fancy, and they aren’t perfect, but they are unique, one of a kind, filled with love and memories. I have hand prints in paint on plastic bobbles, I have ornaments made of Popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter. I have drawings on paper, hung carefully next to the crystal angel that I bought for my first grandchild’s first Christmas. It doesn’t matter what they are made of, they are more treasured than the most expensive ornament on the tree. Because my babies made them, I would rather have them than any other treasure on my trees.

Now I have two trees, one for my fancy store bought and gifted ornaments. It is lovely to behold. Sparkling and glittering with lights and special stones. I put it up in my home office, where it can be seen from the front of the house. It is an addition to all the sparkling lights outside. The other tree is for all my special treasures from my family. It is in my living room, and it glitters and sparkles unlike any other tree in the world. Each ornament is a memory or a story to pass down to our progeny. Each one is a part of our traditions, sacred, and delightful. Usually, the youngest in the family puts the star on the tree, but the one on the tree is built in now. This year, the youngest will be eight hours away, he is two, the perfect age to start telling the stories about each ornament. Instead, our five year old will do the honors when she comes to visit this weekend. She gets a kick out of decorating the tree her way. Meaning most of the purple ornaments are at her eye level, in one place on the tree. She has a thing for organizing colors that way. If she can’t reach a place she wants an ornament, either her Papa or I patiently position it until she is satisfied. Then we have hot chocolate and play until bedtime.

As the days lead up to Christmas, our entire house is decorated inside and out. While I do the baking creating goodies to share with friends and family, the Mr. hangs lights and swears under his breath every time he has to repair another string of lights. When we are done, our home looks like a place of joy, it smells delightfully of chocolate and fresh baked goods, and the music of Christmas fills the air with both sacred and fun sounds of happiness and celebration.

Traditions bring us together as a family. The stories bring us laughter and teaches us through example. The decorations remind us of the past, the people, and the love we all share one generation to the next. I love Christmas, it completes my life, just as the month of December completes the year. Merry Christmas One and All. God Bless Each and Every One of You.

A Childhood Memory


When I was a little kid, my family went to a parade. It was wonderful. All the men marching in step, the tanks rolling by, all the armor, jeeps, and first and foremost, the flag flying high over everything. I remember the sky was bright blue, making the colors of the flag stand out, each color brilliant and fresh. A band marched by, playing loud and proud. When they passed us, they were playing Grand Old Flag. It was all so exciting. My mother kept us kids under control, but the entire crowd was cheering, like they were welcoming heroes home. It was the Fourth of July and we were in Germany in the early 1960’s. Somewhere among those marching men was my father.

I was too young to recognize the importance of that post WWII and post Korea moment. I grew up in the military, I thought everyone’s dad marched in long lines and wore a uniform if they were American. It was normal. All the kids I knew, except for the few locals in our area, had dads who wore uniforms. The women and children in our house area waited for dads and husbands to come home from “the field” just like we did. And everywhere we went, from the school to the doctor’s building, there was a flag with the same bright colors flying above it. It was normal.

When my dad left the military, I was shocked to see buildings without the flag, people without uniforms of any kind, and complete disrespect for any sort of organization. It was hard to become a civilian, I missed the comfort of normal. I missed the feeling of security I had always had, even in the midst of the cold war that could send us on a bus or train with one bag for our whole family at a moment’s notice. I was never unsure, I was never alone, as long as there was a man in a uniform like my dad wore.

One day, I was at school very early for some reason. I was wandering around waiting for school to open when I saw the janitor come out of the building. He unfolded a flag, and pulled it up the flagpole. There, against the bright blue sky, the colors of my flag unfurled. As the wind caught it, the flag waved proudly above the land around it. In my mind I heard Grand Old Flag, as the janitor stepped back and saluted with all the dignity and honor of a soldier. Tears came to my eyes, because to me, he no longer wore a gray shirt and pants of a janitor, he wore a uniform of a soldier, and I knew as long as there were men who had served, men who knew the value of freedom and sacrifice, we would be safe.

Today life is very different in our country. But still, men and women serve to protect what is ours, and our freedom. No matter what politics you hold, no matter what lifestyle you profess, no matter where you live, the military protects you. The flag some spit on, burn, and trample still flies proudly from front porches, flag poles, and buildings. Be it against smoke from a riot, storms, or skies of bright blue, the flag still watches over our land and our people. The little girl in my past and the old woman I am today salute them. In memory of all those who have served to protect our homeland from the Revolutionary Founders through today, Thank You and God Bless America.

Interlude


When we went out for ice cream the other day, a mother with identical twin girls got in line behind us. The girls were three, and cute as could be. Addie was so interested in how much alike they were. The mom was kind enough to answer her questions, and share information with Addie. The little girls were equally fascinated with Addie because she had on purple eye glasses and they wanted to know all about them, so I answered their questions. They did the twin thing of finishing each other’s sentences, and talking over each other in their excitement to learn something new.

Addie got her purple ice cream. I don’t know the flavor, it doesn’t matter as long as it is purple or pink. The little girls wanted the same thing. As the girls enjoyed staring at each other, I chatted for a few minutes with their mother about the usual issues of motherhood times two at once. It was a nice interlude.

The point behind this ramble is that it wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that Addie and I had a nice chat with a mother and her children who were people of a different color than we were. And not once did it occur to us that the differences might matter to anyone. We were just people talking about our lives. Addie is amazed at the thought of twins, the twins were amazed at the fact that Addie needs glasses to see better. That was all that mattered to them.

The mother and I simply exchanged mother notes with each other for a few minutes. I complimented her on how well behaved her girls were, she complimented me on how sweet Addie was. I told her I admired her ability to parent two three year old babies at once, and she said it was hard, but worth it. She admired the fact that we wanted to take our grandchild out for ice cream and how much we clearly loved her. I told her that we sometimes got worn out, but it was worth every minute of it. We were just women being women in a singular moment in time. It was comfortable, pleasant, and completely tranquil.

Addie and I have light skin, the mother and her girls have lovely coffee color skin. It didn’t matter. We were humans being humans, nothing more, nothing less. Had I been a hater, or had she been a hater, we would have both missed out on a nice moment in time. And you know, if people would just stop trying to divide themselves from other people through false agendas like race and status, we could all have pleasant interludes where we learn something about each other, have a laugh, and move on with our day more educated and accepting. It is a sad thing that so many want to used differences as a reason to be angry and divisive. Very sad, indeed.

Well, There Goes a GREAT Program.


I spent 13 years in Boy Scouts as a leader. I have earned my Wood Badge credentials. When I retired I was the Assistant District Commissioner for our area. I trained men and women to lead cub and boy scouts and ran day camps for up to 300 eight, nine, and ten year old boys for 11 of those years. I LOVED scouting. My boys loved it. And all the boys I worked with in both Boy and Cub Scouts loved the program. It was designed to do one thing, to teach boys how to become capable men. It was based on teaching self reliance, team work, personal success, and the ability to adapt and use all skills to survive, advance, and improve themselves. It wasn’t all about camping, but it sure was about competition, excelling, and overcoming barriers.
Boys communicate and work in totally different ways than girls do. Since I think more like a man than a woman half the time (really, my brain is exactly 50 50 in the way it works), I understand men and boys. I speak the language. I get the way they work. And I can tell you, this whole allowing girls in screwed the entire reason for Boy Scouts.
I was also involved with Girl Scouts, I spent more time breaking up hateful, spiteful, pissy girls who were picking on each other than I EVER spent breaking up boy fights. And the girls NEVER let it go. Ever. From then on there were always two camps of girls hating each other. Boys worked it out with competition in canoes, on the rope climbing, and occasionally with their fists. Afterward, it was over. And they were friends again. It will never work having them together, not if they keep the same programs. Girls will hate it, and girls will rule. Now it will be nothing more than another junky club for kids. Mediocre at best, a dismal failure at worse. Disgusting. My boys would never want to be a part of something like that, especially if they were at the age where girls were just gross, alien beings.

Things Kids Need To Know To Be Independent Adults.


The Mr. and I were talking about the way the kids today (that sounds like my mother’s voice) are lacking in basic skills that, up until recently, were taught to all children before they were old enough to drive. At least we were taught those skills and we taught them to our children and they are now being taught to our grandchildren.

I made a list. There are a few rules to abide by.

1. This will require the kids to put down the phone and devices to have a face to face conversation with their parents.

2. This will require the kids to pay attention to what is being said or demonstrated, and for the kids to actually complete the task on their own.

Things kids need to know how to do to be a productive and self sufficient adult.

1. Put gas in the car.

2. Change the oil in the car.

3. Change the windshield wipers on the car.

4. Know when to add coolant or water to the radiator and how to check the levels.

5. How to check air pressure in the tires.

6. Change a flat tire without assistance.

7, Charge a flat battery.

8. Know how to read a real paper map, not the GPS.

9. Learn what basic tools are, how they are used, and what they are called.

10. Plan a budget.

11. Learn how to use a check book and balance the bank account.

12. Learn how to pay bills on time.

13. Learn how to buy groceries.

14. Learn how to plan, cook, and serve daily meals.

15. Learn to cook on a stove or in an oven, not just using the microwave.

16. Learn to read and follow directions for everything.

17. Learn how to fill out a job application on line, and on paper.

18. Learn how to do a job interview.

19. Develop a firm handshake and learn how to look people in the eyes when speaking to them.

20. Be realistic concerning entry level jobs.

21. Learn a good work ethic. Be on time, fulfill your shift, be dependable, work hard.

22. Learn basic self defense.

23. Develop good study habits, it will help you be a better employee.

24. Learn to mow and take care of the lawn.

25. Learn how to clean a bathroom and kitchen.

26. Learn to vacuum the house and mop a floor.

27. Learn how to do laundry.

28. Learn how to iron.

29. Learn basic mending for clothing.

30. Learn how to sew on a button.

31. Learn how to change a diaper and feed a baby/toddler.

32. Learn self respect and how to dress and groom yourself appropriately for the task at hand.

33. Learn how to care for pets.

34. Learn to respect your elders.

35. Learn some manners, and how to act in public.

I am sure that everyone can add to the list, but those were the first things that came to mind. If we, as parents and guardians, take the time to teach our children as soon as they are old enough to start picking up after themselves, all of this will come in handy when they leave home. I see far too many twenty, even thirty, something people who haven’t a clue how to do the most basic things. Any kid past the age of nine can do their own laundry if they can operate the complex phones and gaming systems they play today. Teach the responsibility but giving them the tools they will need to be independent, confident adults. Otherwise, you will be the one picking up the slack in their lives.

New Normal Nonsense


Over the past few years I have heard a phrase used often that, when deconstructed, makes no sense at all. The phrase is, “the new normal.” How can something “new” be normal? It isn’t remotely normal, and although, over time, it might become part of your lifestyle, it isn’t normal when it first begins.

The situation might be considered a new beginning, a new type, a new way of doing something, a new event, a new expectancy, a new thought, a new passion, and new meaning, but it isn’t anything near normal when it is NEW.

Normal. What does that mean? Normal to whom or what? My normal isn’t your normal, and we don’t really have a normal. We have a routine, a way of managing our day and life. Not one day is exactly the same as another, so how can you judge something to be normal? Lets say we have an hour long commute every single day, going to the same part of town, to the same building or workplace, the same position or office, five days a week. Most of us, will not have the same exact experience on any of those five days. The only normal part of that commute is the direction and destination in which we are going. Something different will happen, a random event, an accident, a slow down, something weird in the car next to you or on the train near to you will happen. You might miss your train, the exit, or someone may cut you off causing an accident. Maybe you will have a flat or your car won’t start. On the train or bus, a conversation might start up that you join, or most likely, you over hear and that will set your thoughts off in an original direction. Sure we get to work, but it wasn’t a standard, exactly the same, normal every day thing. It was a day. different, strange, boring, amazing, but it was A DAY,

No job is ever normal either. So you stand in the same spot, doing the same job, but the assembly line fails, someone doesn’t turn up, or is late. Gossip goes up and down the grapevine, someone is having a bad day and takes it out on someone else, everything goes to hell in a manner of seconds when someone throws a spanner in the works. It is a day, but it isn’t exactly the same ever single work day. It isn’t the Old Normal, therefore, how can there be a new normal?

What you have is a change in your life. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. You learn to adapt to or overcome that change in your life. Because if life was always normal, it would be static. A static life is a stagnant life, and that is not normal, in fact, it is harmful, debilitating, depressing, and demoralizing. Human beings are meant to change, sometimes on a daily basis. Those that can’t get left behind as everyone around them moves forward with their lives. The only people who can’t or don’t naturally change daily are those with disabilities, and they do change only more slowly. It isn’t in us to always remain the same. If it was, we would always be children, never maturing beyond being totally dependent on parents and caregivers. It is within our DNA to try to grow up and away from our parents into adults who can take care of ourselves. That growth, while in one way is normal, it is also individual and therefore there is no correct or normal way to reach maturity. It is simply an individual effort that changes daily.

Stop already with the New Normal nonsense. No one is normal, we are all unique with unique moments and events in our lives. Our singular way of coping with those events makes us different from one another, and it also makes us interesting to others around us. There is no Old Normal, there is no New Normal, there is only change and how we cope with those changes in our lives.

You Can’t Have It Both Ways.


Everyone is yammering on about how an 18 year old shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
They can go to war and protect your country, but not own a gun.
They can vote but they can’t buy a gun.
They can drive a car but they can’t own a gun.
They can marry and divorce, but can’t own a gun.
They can pay bills and make money, but they can’t own a gun.
They can buy pot, tobacco products and beer in some states, but can’t own a gun.
They can be fathers, but they can’t own a gun.
They can run a business, work in dangerous jobs, but they can’t own a gun.
They can save a life, but they can’t own a gun.
They can provide for an entire family, but they can’t own a gun.
They are considered adults, but they can;t own a gun.

Okay. You want them to remain children. So no more military, no more voting, no more marriage or divorce without parental consent, no more driving cars, no more smokes or booze, no more pot either, no more responsibility for being a daddy, no more working, no more being a man. Nope. They must remain children under the care of the uncaring government.

The leftists can’t have it both ways. Either they are adults, with all the rights of an adult, or they are children. What we need are police and federal officials who are willing to do their damned jobs. Most departments say that they “protect and serve” the people. Bull. Not in Florida. There they run away and serve themselves. That young man was sick, for a long time. No one did their job, had they done so, 17 people would be alive. Unless, of course, he blew them up or ran them down with a car. If someone is determined to kill, they will find a way.

A Short Holiday


We went on a brief holiday over the past four days. The more I am around people, the less I like them. Maybe it is because I am old, and I was raised with manners, expectations of certain social behaviors when in public, and on threat of perpetual grounding, expected the same from my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Things I witnessed this past week makes me wonder about the safety, sanity, and abilities of future generations.

Story One:

We were in the resort restaurant for the dinner buffet. The place was packed, as they usually are. After getting our Addie settled with her meal, I wandered off to check out the grown up menu. A woman pushed past me, and as she did I noticed she was wearing a bikini top and a pair of pajama bottoms with a pair of mukluk boots. Now, granted, we were at a place where the main attractions were the pools and slides, but at first glance she looked like she had jumped out of bed in her bra and pajamas to grab a meal. First of all, she was everything I hate in people. Loud, pushy, obnoxious, and demanding. Secondly, she was downright tacky. It is one thing to grab a snack in your swimsuit at the snack bar, but it is far different to turn up to dinner dressed like that. And don’t get me started on just how tacky it is for a grown woman to be running around in public in pajamas. How hard is it to throw on a pair of trousers or jeans, descent shoes and a top? I don’t even care if you need a bra and don’t wear one, but really, put some damned clothes on.

Story Two:

Same restaurant second day there. We were at the Breakfast buffet. (It’s cheaper and there are more choices.) I get in line behind a family of a mom with her two boys of about seven and nine. She is on her phone. The older boy grabs a plate and starts filling it with eggs. Four large serving spoons of scrambled eggs. Mom says nothing. He hits the bacon next. He scooped up no less than twelve pieces of bacon. Mom says, “Honey let me have some of that bacon.” She takes one piece off his plate. He dives back in and puts four or five more pieces on his plate and heads for the hash browns. By now the first plate is full. He gets a second plate, mind you he can come back for more. He fills the second plate with hash brown potatoes and covers them with gravy. Then hands the plates to his Mom, who takes them, and he heads to the cereal dispenser. He fills a bowl with Fruit Loops and milk and heads back to the table, where the server is setting down his hot chocolate and orange juice. Their table is right across from ours. Because I had never seen a skinny kid that age eat so much, I wanted to see what he would do. His mom nibbled her bacon and sipped on her coffee while she stayed on the phone. The boy ate a few bites of cereal, had a few sips of hot chocolate, and didn’t touch anything else. His mother never noticed. They got up and left and she was still on the phone. Someone needs a lesson on wasting food and greed. Oh, and on parenting.

Story Three:

We decided to take a drive up into the mountains to see the National Park. We went to a very cool place that has a drive through living history thing. That takes everyone to see the old settlement in the valley. It is about eleven miles round trip and there are loads of places to stop and take photos and go into the old buildings. We ended up behind a car with a family of five. Two parents, three kids. Like everyone, they had their windows down. Two of the kids, one on each side, were sitting on the window sill of the doors, hanging outside the car, leaning back as far as they could go. Granted, the speed limit was about ten miles an hour, but there were a lot of sudden stops as people would decide to leave the road and park to take photos etc. We followed them for about two miles, and ever single minute, I expected one or both of those kids to fall out of the car. I kept falling back as far as I could, terrified I would run one of them over after they hit the ground. Finally, they stopped and we got past them. About half a hour later they turned up at the ranger station. Someone called out to the woman in the car and asked her why she was allowing her kids to do something so dangerous. Her response had a lot of F words in it, and basically said it was no one’s business what she let her kids do. The first woman said it would be everyone’s business if one of those kids got hurt. More than a few folks agreed. The woman was on her phone and smoking her cigarette, the kids were running wild, trying to climb on everything they weren’t supposed to climb on, and she basically told everyone to go do something anatomically impossible. The dad never got out of the car or engaged with anyone. The rangers made the kids leave the exhibit after the two girls started fighting over stuff. Unbelievable.

Story Three:

Back at the restaurant the next day at lunch. Vastly busy. We were seated next to a table full of pre-teen boys between ten and twelve. There wasn’t a single parent near them. The tables were next to windows that looked out over the wave pool and water slides. Two of the boys turned around and were kneeling in their chairs backward. Then they started rocking them back on the legs and banging the backs of the chairs on the windows. I asked the wait staff if that was a good idea, the guy shrugged and said, “The windows are supposed to be break proof.” At my surprised look he said, “They’re being kids.” Then walked off. I called him back and asked to see a manager. I explained that all glass has a breaking point, all it takes is for the right amount of pressure to be applied at the right point. Even if it is shatter proof, it will crack, and sometimes it will fall from its frame causing the window to come crashing down and the kids could fall out of the window. She said she understood, but that they were not allowed to correct other people’s kids. So my husband got up and went over to the boys and said, “You know, banging into the windows might not be a good idea. If they break and you fall two stories to the walkway below, you could hurt yourselves. That would make the rest of your vacation suck.” They stopped, turned around and finished their meal and left. How hard was that? If you don’t say anything, kids will just keep on doing what they do until someone gets hurt. Especially boys that age who still haven’t learned to fear getting hurt.

Story Four:

Parents and phones. If you are going to spend upwards of three hundred dollars a day for a family to go on a holiday, why are you on your phone? It is supposed to be a FAMILY adventure. We saw kids from the age of three up doing their best to get their parents attention. The parents never put their damned phones down for a second. Two little girls about Addie’s age, somewhere between four and six were playing in the water right in front of their mommy. They were thrilled to get up the courage to go into the water up to their knees. They were having a great time, squealing and jumping around. “Mommy look! Mommy watch me! Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!!!” She had a phone in her hand, face buried in it. Not once did she look up, take a photo, or interact with them. It was no wonder that in minutes they were whining and crying. All they wanted was five seconds of Mommy’s time. That enraged me. Those poor kids. And it was like that everywhere we went at the resort. Parents on their phones, at the pool bar, ignoring their kids. Why the hell bother to take them anywhere if you aren’t going to enjoy time with them? I never took my phone out of the room while we were there. Neither did my husband. And Addie got every bit of attention she deserved.

Story Five:

I was waiting for the elevator to go to our room. Waiting with me was a mother and three teenage girls. The girls were surly and snarly. All of them complaining of different things. One in particular that I pegged around the age of fourteen was really snarky. The elevator comes and the doors open. Instead of allow the people on it to get off first, the mother and all three girls shoved their way on. The other family with four little children almost ended up with one child left behind. I got on just as the doors closed. The hateful girl sighed and rolled her eyes at me. When I asked if she could press the floor button for me since she was standing in front of the controls, she moved and snarled, “What am I, your slave?” I looked at her mother, she had her face buried in her phone. I pushed the button for my floor, then the brat stood back in front of the control panel and pushed down on her floor button. Her sister asked what she was doing and she said, “I don’t want to have to wait for anyone else to get on. Its and old fireman trick.” I said, “I don’t think that works on these new elevators, most of them require a key to make them stop working.” At that time we stopped. The people waiting were going down so didn’t get on. I didn’t say anything. We got to my floor. The girls piled off, I waited for the mother. She was still on her phone so I got off. I heard her say something, but didn’t understand her. I asked her what she said. She told me I was rude for not letting her get off with her daughters. I pointed out that the doors were getting ready to close so I kept them open so I could get off. She gave me a nasty look. So I said, “While your learning some manners of your own, why not teach some to your daughters as well. You aren’t the only people who are paying to stay here and we have just as much of a right to use the elevators as you and your daughters. If you don’t like people sharing the elevator, take the stairs.” I got the expected F word response. It wasn’t worth my time to deal with her idiocy. I figured she would get her karma response in dealing with those hateful girls of hers.

Story Six:

We had a great time. Addie loved everything from the swimming and wave pools and slides, to painting ceramics with me, and doing sand art with her Papa. She loved the ranger station where they helped her learn the life cycle of moths and butterflies, and she got a Junior Ranger Award for answering all the questions correctly afterwards. She got to have Old Time photographs with fancy costumes along with her Papa, and she ate at a real diner for the first time. We all stayed up too late, ate too much, and wore ourselves to a frazzle. It was too bad so many other kids weren’t having fun with their parents or grandparents, and so many parents were acting annoyed to be there. Addie was in her element as the center of our attention, and the one melt down she had was quickly under control because a time out sitting in the middle of Nana’s bed with nothing to do is no fun. Next holiday, I think we need to go somewhere that has a lot fewer people and a lot more nature.