So, we made it back. Due to hot competition for Trevor’s unit, I didn’t blog the last day or so. I was pretty grumpy by then anyway so my diatribe may have been biased.
Overall it was a very good vacation. Never before have we spent 24 hours a day, 6 days in a row with no one but the four of us. No grandparents, babysitter, daycare, work, nothing. Nowehere to escape to, we all stayed in the same room. It was all I could do to pee alone. I must confess to an audible sigh of relief when we sent the kids off with Pappa this morning. For the first time in what seemed like a very long time, someone else was responsible for them. Phew.
I am delighted to say that Trevor and I had not one tense moment (ok, well, I didn’t; I shouldn’t speak for him). The kids’ little voices got a bit tiresome (I think I counted an even two dozen “Are we there yet?”s, or variations on the theme, on the way home), but except for brief incidents, they were really well behaved and generally pleasant to be around. And it was good practice tuning them out when they weren’t. I’m sure that skill will serve me well in some future endeavour.
Saturday, we did the Children’s Museum, which I think may have been the best dollar-per-minute of fun that we had. The kids had a blast in this little warehouse factory, working together with other kids moving blocks around on conveyor belts. They might have stayed there the whole time if we hadn’t prodded them along a bit. Unfortunately, they got tired and hungry, and our grown-up oriented trip to Ikea was an exercise in patience and tuning out. They whined that we were going to leave them in the babysitting area, and then when the sign-in line didn’t budge for 15 minutes, we decided just to take them through the store with us. This of course provoked an all-out temper tantrum by Aimee, who suddenly wanted to go to the babysitting area. Extremely frustrating. So much so that we opted for dinner at Chili’s for the fourth night in a row because it was in the hotel parking lot and we could drink several beers and not worry about plowing into an abutment on the way home. We worried there might be an inquest into whether such an accident was really accidental.
So while it was a very enjoyable vacation, I am glad to be home, for a number of reasons. I love my bed. I missed having a room with a door I could shut. I got tired of wearing the same jeans. I got pretty tired of restaurant food and wished for something healthy and homemade. I felt not a little violated at the nickel and diming (or, more accurately the $5 and $10ing) that went on everywhere, but especially at that bastion of commercialism, that Symbol of The American Dream, The Mall of America (or the Mall-of-A-Maraka, as Aimee described it in her journal). The Children’s Museum was the only place that actually included all activities in its entrance fee, another reason for its high value-rating in my book.
I found no brilliant cross-border bargains. Everything pretty much cost what it would here, but there was a silent 25% to add for currency exchange. There was nothing we can’t get at home, except Krispy Kreme, which is a good thing (damn those are good doughnuts!!). The beer was pretty good, and they asked me for ID (haha!!), but we went to about 8 different stores looking for some Famous Amos Oatmeal Raisin cookies for Trevor’s dad, and they were nowhere to be found (any of my American friends have a source?).
I felt an almost palpable sense of relief when we crossed the border back into Canada. I knew my healthcare would be provided, and covered, if anything happened. I realized that I had spent a considerable amount of energy wondering how we would pay for treatment for, say, a bladder infection or a depressed skull fracture or a near drowning. I also worried constantly that my kids were going to be kidnapped and sold on the black market if I took my eyes off them for a second. That fear wore off a bit as the week went on and my irritability grew, but it was always there in the back of my mind.
We have talked about moving the the States from time to time, just for a year or so to make some money, but I’m not all that convinced that we would come out on top. Housing is more expensive, even if taxes are lower. Commutes can be insane, so count the quality time down. I’m not sure I could live in the land of the free. I’m sure my American friends would have some arguments in the pro side, but as one of them admitted, freedom ain’t cheap. And don’t even get me started on Bush.
There was one specific thing, however, that convinced me that America is not the place I want to raise my family. It is a social and political climate, borne of what her proud citizens consider their inalienable, God-given right, and exemplified by the necessity for the following sign, posted in variations at the door of many public buildings, including the Children’s Museum and the Mall of America:
Need I say more?