Every family has some form of vacation rules. Maybe you don’t wake up with alarms no matter what, or have dessert at every meal. Or you might prefer to never eat in the same place twice, because there are so many places to try out. If you’re really dedicated, there might be a no phones or wifi rule (which can be surprisingly relaxing).
Since I have so much fun with my family whenever we get to travel together (or really just are all in one place), I figure sharing my own family’s completely made up and not at all arbitrary vacation rules is a good plan. Buckle up for some weird, objectively silly, rules. Reasoning behind the rules comes after the list, assuming there is any reasoning to be had.
- Food Comes First
- Fashion – It must function, and it must be patently absurd
- Safety 3rd – No matter what the list is, or who the group, safety comes third.
- Erin (aka Sweets) has dibs on falling
- Do Not Let Dad Throw the Computer Out
- Yes to Dogs. No to Children.
- Diet Coke Has No Substitute.
- Sunburns are inevitable, bitching makes it better.
- Everything is Dad’s Fault. Yes, even that.
- No Matter Who Actually Wins, Madison Is The Best At 13.
First up is food! I really hope this one doesn’t need explaining. Come on now guys, it’s food. You know, the most important thing ever? That which no one shall take from my plate if they wish to live? (No, seriously, I’ve been known to use utensils as weapons to defend my noms. Don’t try it, if only for your own sake.) This one is first because if it isn’t taken care of, nothing else is going to matter. If you’ve ever been someplace really amazing, but they forgot to feed you, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason they let the celebrities have pizza or whatever else they want when doing all those live awards shows. Hungry people get SCARY. So look after the foods, and the trip should be okay.
Next up we have fashion choices. Now, you may be wondering why fashion comes second over important things like safety, blaming Dad for everything, and the holy source of all things good that is Diet Coke. Well, mostly because the number of people who wear uncomfortable but cute things bothers me in a fundamental way. Which is why I firmly believe that on vacation the most ridiculous clothing possible should be worn. With the caveat that you should not go spend all of your vacation money on absurd clothes, no matter how cool that would be, and that these outrageous outfits had better be functional. If you have photos from vacation and none of them are candidates for ‘wait, people wore those!?’ comments in the next ten years, reevaluate your life. I’ll wait. (I won’t actually wait, because I’m tired. Would you want to wait for that? Sheesh. I’m really going to sleep, and you can wait for yourself).
Third up! Safety! Now this is important kids, because the careful illusion of safety is what allows us to do really really dangerous stuff. Like jumping out of airplanes. Can’t do that without safety stuff. Actually, almost anything fun requires some kind of safety blah blah blah. Which means it’s best to work some of that really cool looking safety gear into your plans of following rule 2, because safety is always third. Even when the other rules jump around and change places. Just like those darn actual safety measures, always being relied on and supposed to be in the same damn place no matter what. So responsible. Look, let’s not ruin this whole irresponsible vibe here, and just pretend that this rule has to do with keeping all of your ice cream safe. Or something like that. Moving on!
This rule actually matters a lot. I have dibs on falling. No, not whoever says that has dibs on falling. Me, the one who wrote this thing, has dibs on falling. Which means none of you selfish attention seekers is allowed to fall on vacation and get hurt. You can’t even fall and just be slightly embarrassed because the cute person you see at breakfast sometimes noticed. I have dibs. So find some other ice breaker and move along. Besides, we all know that everyone has a finite number of falls in their lives, and that some of those falls are saved for when you really can’t afford them. I think of those as the hip-breakers. Now, I’m so clumsy that I’m no longer allowed to actually complete my falls most of the time, because I’ve already used up most of my allotted number of falls for this lifetime. So every time I fall now, I’m using a potential broken bone from racing in the halls of a nursing home (let’s be real, I’ll be there because I broke in to play with wheelchairs. Even if I need a wheelchair). TL;DR? The falling and all the attention that goes with it, as well as any broken limbs, are all MINE. So don’t try any of that losing your balance crap with me!
I really don’t think this one should be a rule. No, I’m not rooting on the destruction of perfectly good computers. Nor am I heartlessly urging people to make their laptops unemployed. My objection is that this is just…. I mean, who needs to be told not to throw away their computer!? This incident has already been earmarked for countless retellings, and will likely become a part of family lore to be passed on well past when computers take over the world. Probably because the computer literally needed five minutes on a charger and then a reboot in safe mode. That was it. It took Madison under 10 minutes to have it fixed, and five of those were while it sat on a charger before she tried anything. In a few years we might, might, let Dad throw away electronics without supervision. Maybe. Probably not. This is just too perfect.
Okay. We’re really getting into it now. Still with me? Let’s hope so, because I’m amusing myself, so I’m going to keep on and pretend anyone else talking is just unaware that it’s currently MY TURN. Ahem. As I was saying. Any good vacation requires a reminder to the young 20-somethings (those actively trying for children; I do not understand you at the moment, but cool. Skip this rule, go bang/get off, then move to the next one.) that we say YES to dogs, and NO to children. Dogs can be pet, are cute, and can be left by themselves without anyone calling protective services on you. Yes, even when they’re puppies. People puppies on the other hand, require constant supervision and care when being handled until they’ve turned into boring regular people. So just make the vacation better for everyone, and don’t bring the people puppies with on vacations that are meant for the people who are legally allowed to have alcohol. And yes, I do say it that way because calling me an adult is simply absurd. Let’s leave the people puppies home, kay?
Say someone is uncouth enough to have a people puppy near you, or – even worse – a people puppy is in the room adjacent to you. Well, you’re going to need something to get through the poor television choices made by the little chaos creature. Look, I get it, you’re small and have an as-yet underdeveloped vocabulary and reasoning skills. That is not an excuse to watch Barney, Dora the Explorer, or teletubbies. There is never an excuse for any of these. When I was a kid we watched Mr. Rodgers, Sesame Street, and Reading Rainbow. Now get off my lawn and watch some real kids programming or some cartoons dammit!
Whoa. Okay. I think that was some kind of mini-senior episode. One minute I had a tv show in the background and was wearing standard workout gear, the next there was classic Bach playing and I was in a robe with a cane. Pretty sure there’s a sword in the cane. So I’m a badass old lady in the future. Good to know.
Back on track! When old age tries to sneak up on you (or when that whole not sleeping deal teams up with jetlag to really get you), remember that Diet Coke has No Substitute. Now, this does not simply entail staring blankly at whomever may dare to utter those dread words ‘is pepsi okay?’ (No! Pepsi is not okay! It is never okay! Stop trying to push that inferior product!). This goes far beyond the simple attempts to substitute with inferior brands. What I’m talking about is the dreadful reality of regional flavor profiles. You see, when traveling, my Dad made a terrible discovery. It may not be a shock that products are different in different parts of the world – but the same product can also be different in different parts of the world. What’s that? I’ve lost you completely? Whoops. Okay, so Diet Coke in South Africa has a bit more of secret ingredient A in it, and none of secret ingredient B, but then just a hint of secret ingredient c. Then, in China maybe it’s the reverse. Go to England, and they’ve just gone bonkers for that secret ingredient B but don’t much care about the others. Am I oversimplifying this? You betcha. Is it still incredibly distressing to realize that your go-to comfort ‘food’ is not going to taste right until you’re home? For sure. Somehow, we still manage to get Dad to travel without him bringing along cases of the ‘right’ Diet Coke.
Alright. It’s vacation, you’ve got your very real but somehow not quite right Diet Coke, and you want to hit the beach. So you just throw a suit on and head out! BZZZ! Wrong. That’s going to turn you into a lobster. Maybe a cute lobster, but still a crustacean of the red variety. So, suit, sunscreen, sun! Maybe you go crazy and even re-apply the damn stuff while you’re out. And you’re feeling good about it, no way are you going to get burned this time. We all know where this is going, right? Good. Because, no surprise, back at whatever ‘home’ is, you will immediately discover the spot. The spot that you are absolutely sure you got, which has somehow managed to turn into your very own heat source. Now, this is definitely going to be an irritation for whatever is left of the vacation, but there is one proven balm to any sunburn – bitching. So long as you make sure to maintain a minimum on one bitching session/day, not to exceed 4 in a 12 hour period, this is a time tested treatment to ensure the remaining vacation is enjoyable*
*Terms & Conditions Apply. All bitching must be done in good humor; for full effects, combine with liberal amounts of self-deprecation.
Now, vacation is a time when we have to have everything go our way. Which means there needs to be someone to blame when things don’t go right. Stay with me here, I promise the madness has some kind of method. Now, I want to be very clear that this is not something that works when genuinely blaming someone or holding grudges. This is a way (at least in our family) to make frustrating situations easier to let go of, and to move from what my dad so eloquently calls ‘blamestorming’ to figuring things out. Basically, when things go wrong (the reservation was for two hours ago, the rental car we booked is on another island, the prince is in yet another castle…) we blame Dad. This ingenious strategy has saved all of us at one time or another, and likely will someday end up being the key factor in preventing a war or shape the world in some other ridiculous way.
If you’re still with me, you’ve made it to the tenth rule. Well, this is really the 13th rule, because the rule is that Madison is the best at 13. As I’ve tried to explain this game repeatedly and failed monumentally each time, I am forced to conclude that despite my ability to play and occasionally win, I really do not understand this card game at all. Which is fine, because Madison is not only amazing at card games in general, but is scary good at this game. Seriously, if you end up playing 13 with Madison do not bet anything under any circumstances. I may or may not have learned the hard way.
You’re now officially… probably still not actually ready for a Sweets Family Vacation. We’re weird and very happy being that way. The good news is that, ready or not, you’re probably going to make it out alive.