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Sometimes I Think We Should Take Our Kids on Educational Vacations. But Then I Remember My Childhood.

Going to Florida for Spring Break has become the focal point of our year. It is so amazing to get out of Chicago and sit on a beach. I can’t remember the first time I was ever on a beach, but I’m pretty damn sure it wasn’t with my parents. They weren’t beach people.

They took us on a lot of vacations. We definitely went to Disney World, where my Dad would take a picture next to Space Mountain and then go ride It’s a Small World After All. And they took us to Ireland. Where there was plenty of ocean, but nothing that resembled a beach, or the sun for that matter.

My mom liked us to learn stuff on vacation. She liked us to learn stuff all the time. When we asked for the game Twister, she bought us the game Body Boggle instead. Instead of playing a hilarious game of physical skill, we had to use our arms and legs to spell words. We didn’t make any friends with that one.


Here’s the actual description of Body Boggle.

Two players from each team use their hands and feet to spell out words on the letter mat. The first word’s not too hard to stretch and spell, but just try rearranging hands and feet to spell the next word. And the next. And the next…It’s the word game that’s truly body-boggling!

You can just imagine the hilarity that ensued. The box also states that it will “lighten up any party!” If I’m ever at a party that is so dull they bring out Body Boggle to lighten things up, I’m out. There’s other ways to lighten things up. Trust me. And you don’t need to know how to spell to participate.

They took us to Ireland to visit family. They took us to New York to visit family. All awesome trips. But there is one particular trip I will never forget no matter how hard I try.

One year they announced they were taking us to Boston. This actually couldn’t have been more amazing to me at the time. New Kids On The Block were huge and I knew for sure I’d get to meet them in their hometown. This was going to be the most amazing trip ever.

But it wasn’t amazing. It was the exact opposite of amazing. It was unamazing.

One day they decide to make us walk the entire Freedom Trail.

Welcome to the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile, red-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites — each one an authentic treasure. Explore museums and meetinghouses, churches, and burying grounds. Learn about the brave people who shaped our nation.

Museums. Meetinghouses. Churches. Burying Grounds. A dream vacation. The brochure writes itself.

I’m sure at some point in history it was amazing to walk that trail. But in 1988, I was less than impressed. At no point were the New Kids on the Block even mentioned. Ever.

It was awful. It was 95 degrees, if not hotter.  And I was walking and not too sure why. Or where. And I’m almost positive it was uphill both ways.

All I remember is how thirsty I was and how my Dad would not let us stop and buy water because he would never pay for something that was free. We finally came upon a vendor selling lemonade. As soon as he was about to hand us our cups of ice cold gloriousness, the police came and made the guy close shop because he didn’t have a permit.

I. Swear. To. God.

We didn’t get that drink. Not one drop. And this is when I must have passed out because I don’t remember anything after that.

I was talking to my brother Dat and his wife Meggy about this the other night. Meggy suggested taking the kids to Boston and Dat and I couldn’t get the words out fast enough.

Hell to the naw. And I believe it was the very first time we remembered a piece of our childhood exactly the same way. Word for word.

I am now realizing why we don’t have more pictures of our childhood. There was nothing to see.

My parents also never took us camping. Which I am eternally grateful for. I remember asking my Dad why he wasn’t more outdoorsy. And his response was, “My father didn’t come to this country to sleep outdoors”.

I do kind of feel bad because I never take my kids to burial grounds. But it turns out taking that 2.5 miles walk on that stifling hot day in 1988 really only taught me one thing. To never do that again.

While researching this post, I thought it was Ben Franklin who warned everyone about the British, but it turns out it was Paul Revere. So now I’m confident my kids are learning way more from us on a beach in Florida than I have ever learned on any educational vacay I went on.

So we’ll be heading back to the beach again next year. Where my kids will create their own distorted memories to ridicule me with in years to come. Perhaps I’ll pack the Body Boggle for good measure.

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