“They’re such good travelers,” my husband and I tell people about our children.
“Owen just talks to his fingers in the car and looks out the window,” I say when asked about the 10 hour drive for a weekend trip.
“They read and color and then the last hour we let them use a device of some kind.”
All of these sentences are true. Most of the time in fact.
But on this trip, right now, they are lies. Bald-faced lies about children I have never met. The two kids living with me in this rental house in Chapala, Mexico, are terrible. They clearly have never left their homes before.
One child will not sleep in his bed alone. This child has slept alone in a bed since he was 6 months old. Bed, not even crib.
Another child will not eat. Anything. I finally buy a loaf of white bread, appropriately produced by the Bimbo company. So now he eats toast.
Using the bathroom and not knowing where everyone in the house is while you are pooping? Cause for hysteria.
There are a lot of spiders, which is freaking me out. For some reasons the boys haven’t mentioned the spiders once.
A door latch hit a finger.
Using bottled water to brush teeth.
Sounds of birds outside while trying to go to sleep.
Walking in a city with uneven sidewalks.
Not being allowed to pet stray dogs.
Being yelled at to get on the bus when it is trying to leave and child is standing on the bottom step with a crowd behind us.
Being forced to write in a journal each day.
These are the ways I am ruining lives this week. Never mind the great parts: hiking a mountain to a waterfall overflowing from heavy rains. Bacon-wrapped shrimp eaten lakeside. A boat ride to an abandoned island with a ruined military fort.
None of these things matter.
I get emails asking how things are going. My grandmother wonders why I’m not sending out newsy updates.
We are fine. I’m just on vacation with kids who seem to be strangers. Kids I can’t predict. I assume they’ll want to buy chicken nuggets at Walmart but when I suggest it, they are upset I would suggest such a thing. That isn’t Mexican! They tell me.
I resist life lessons. I don’t want to be heavy handed, tell them how lucky they are and all that. But I’m not going to make it a month without sending them to work with the neighbor kids who run the family bodega on the corner. Either that or something meaner.
Because I’m going to have fun on this trip. With or without the rest of the family.
Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best. Twitter: Eliana0Eliana. Website: elianaosborn.com.
Image credit: Brittany Randolph (used with permission).