Relaxation is for the Weak: A Summer Weekend Getaway With Two Small Children

For the most part I like to spend my summer weekends feeling sorry for myself that I’m not at some family country house (we really need some new relatives, no offense, old relatives) and/or enjoying the ample parking and fragrant melange of hot trash and park barbecues our semi-abandoned neighborhood boasts. But last weekend I made an exception and we actually went somewhere. Somewhere shady and breezy and countrified and refreshing. Somewhere…in the Berkshires.
 We found, super last-minute, a farm with a room to rent (well, like a little 2-story annex, with a storybook attic bedroom), and away we went. “It’s going to take how long to drive there?” Adam said, enthusiastically. “Um, 3 and a half hours?” I said. “It’s in Massachusetts, you know.” “Huh.” Later, on a stifling, crazy-making 100 degree night, “It’s air-conditioned, right? Right? Amy? Right?” (It was NOT! But miraculously, was quite cool. Phew.)

The morning we left I kept repeating, a bit hysterically, “This is going to be so much fun, you guys!” Harper turned to the baby in their side-by-side carseats and announced, “It’s an adventure, Ollie!” Then she turned to us, “I’m ready to get out of the car now.” We were two avenues from home.

But before we knew it (ha!) we were frolicking around this picturesque-as-all-get-out farm, which was truly a storybook farm come to life, and did nothing to disabuse Harper of her “Animals of Farmer Jones” notions of such things. (Next family trip: a get-real-tour of a factory farm.)  Horses! Goats! Chickens! Raspberries for the picking! Vegetables, which apparently grow in the GROUND! In DIRT and stuff! Ew!

On paper, it was everything I was looking for in a weekend. Adam and I have this beach debate — he is staunchly pro-ocean, while I’m really charmed by a nice shady lake in the pines — and here the swimming spots were cool and tree-lined, guarded by hearty swarms of friendly bugs. At the “locals” swimming hole in the river, off a little dirt road, we met some friendly “locals.” From Brooklyn. Writers. Wouldn’t you know it.The only problem with this little kid-friendly family vacation weekend, I realized, was the, well, kids. No offense to the kids. We adore them. Of course we do. They are life itself, etc. But man, is a weekend away with a 2-year-old and a baby not really that relaxing. First of all, the gear. So much gear. And I don’t know if this is how all 2-yr-olds are, but Harper was thrown pretty out-of-whack by having her routines messed with. Most memorable was an early morning shrieking fit brought on by the mere fact of hot chocolate being made with milk. Presumably she was disappointed to learn that just the packet of powder itself was not hot chocolate even though it was confusingly called such? Anyway. And then there is the sheer exhaustion that comes from being in an un-child-proofed space and the resulting constant vigilance over stairs and outlets and other temptations. I’m not sure why I thought such a weekend would be relaxing. I mean, just because you are somewhere else doesn’t mean you don’t still have kids to coax to bed before you yourself collapse with exhaustion. It should have come as no surprise that I wasn’t kicking back with a lemonade and my feet up for three days. But now when I look at the photos, they seem to tell a relaxing tale. So maybe I will just pretend that’s how it felt. I guess when all is said and done, once we got a band-aid on Harper’s farm-cat-scratch and the car stopped emitting smoke and the baby got tired of screaming and we’d completed our hour-long tour of the final 7 miles of the BQE before home it was pretty relaxing after all.

11 responses to “Relaxation is for the Weak: A Summer Weekend Getaway With Two Small Children

  1. As an old relative, I take full responsibility for not having a place in the country. No one in my family ever had a place in the country. My parent’s generation all went to South Haven Michigan every summer as sort of an encampment.
    We tried to go to different places including the very odd camping years. Although you did spend some time in South Holland Michigan and yet never visited the wooden shoe factory.
    Curious!

    • I am now exceedingly impressed at the complexity of our family vacations growing up. Harper and Alton will be lucky if we can make it to the Jersey Shore now and then. Just! So! Complicated!

  2. These pictures tell an idyllic story. Love them, love the Berkshires. Did I mention that in our backyard we have a cherry tree that is drooping under the weight of its fruit, as well as blueberry and raspberry bushes? Want to come visit? ; )

  3. Sounds like a plan! Yep, she can take care of them while we eat small fruits and lounge in hammocks all day long…

  4. She makes a better margarita.

  5. Ok, you must tell me where this Berkshires magic took place. Perhaps there I can find a baby by the river.

    We also have the same ocean/lake split. I’d like to get my way more often.

    • Chesterfield! Near Northampton which I hear is “Brooklyn North.” I will go to lake beaches with you and the boys can go to the ocean, how’s that sound?Salt water shmalt water!

  6. Pingback: Rockaway Beach: The Mini-Montauk. | household words

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