Vacations used to be these super fun events filled with alcohol, flirtation and hazy memories. They were an opportunity to let go of responsibility and dance in a foam pit non-ironically. I once went to Amsterdam and smoked enough pot to get lost in the Red Light district for six hours. I walked in circles and stared at prostitutes in the windows wondering if I had seen the one with the sad eyes wearing crotchless panties before. Vacations meant taking a break from myself and doing things I would never do at home.
After I became a mom, vacations no longer seemed like a good opportunity to push the limits of my consciousness and abuse my liver to the point of near failure. Being a parent creates a new texture to life, which is exactly why I never traveled with my kid. Besides the fear of having an entire planeload of passengers resent me if my child made any noise above a whisper, I wasn’t sure of the best vacation-oriented, kid-appropriate activities that didn’t include experimenting with hallucinogens and Ambien.
After three years of never going anywhere further than a five-hour drive, I accepted an invitation to accompany my best friend to the Caribbean for her 40th birthday party. She loves my daughter and wanted her to come as well. I figured nothing says birthday fun debauchery like bringing your toddler along for the ride!
My three-year-old daughter had never seen the ocean before, and was thrilled by this adventure. Her joy was inspiring and contagious; yet despite her exuberance, there were challenges. We had just experienced winter in the New England tundra, so needless to say she got sunburnt on the first day. I used the eco-organic-hippy sunscreen on her because I didn’t want to spread toxic chemicals over her pristine body. My dogmatic environmental ideology backfired. The precious sunscreen had failed. Ironically, I applied the generic poisonous Banana Boat brand on my body and never burned.
Though her shoulders were tender, my daughter still wanted to swim and play outside, so I purchased one of those long sleeved “swimmie” shirts that all the other pasty white children were wearing. I purchased the cutest one. Of course, due to its lack of a Frozen character plastered on the front, my kid didn’t like it. According to her, not only did it lack a Disney monarch, but wearing a shirt meant she would have to cover up her Hello Kitty bikini.
After a two-hour negotiation, which included the promise of cake, she acquiesced, but only if I agreed to wear a swimmie shirt, too. In the environment of a tropical resort where everyone is busy showing off their tanned, Pilates-toned physiques, I was an anomaly—sporting my Pink Floyd T-shirt.