Friday, April 6, 2012

Everybody in the pool

Today, we returned from our St. George mini-vacation. We enjoyed three whole days away from Salt Lake City, with some decent temperatures and sunny days (though yesterday was windy). And aside from food and lodging, we didn't spend much money on attractions -- I took the boys bowling Tuesday, but there were no movies, no go-karts, no museums and no state parks on this trip. That wasn't so much by design, either, but just how our vacation shook out. Instead, we hiked a lot and swam a lot.

The hikes we traversed were great -- two trails we had never ventured upon. The first we hiked, on Wednesday, was about 1.5 miles and took us to petroglyphs we didn't know existed (and Lori and I are big petroglyph fans). The second hike started out small but got more ambitious -- we walked about four miles after thinking we'd go no farther than two. Thursday's trail gave provided some great views of the lava fields west of St. George, as well as plenty of rocks for the boys to climb.

Michael and Ben did great on the long hike -- I was so proud of them. On the second half of the hike, I admittedly patted Lori and me on the back when I told the boys that they were lucky: Many of their friends' parents wouldn't take them on hikes like this with them. Lori somewhat corrected me that many of the parents we know take their kids hiking. I guess what I meant to say was that there are many parents out there who will do the bare minimum with their kids on vacation.

What spurred me to say that to the boys was witnessing families at the pools (one indoor, one outdoor) at our hotel. Michael and Ben were playing with two boys around their age with their mother, whose husband was working in St. George that week. The woman was nice, but in two days spending all afternoon at the pool, she barely swam with her kids, telling them not to splash her when she was in the water. There was another family who did this for three days -- the kids swam, the moms tanned. An abundance of pool time on vacation is great, particularly if the hotel has great pools (like the water park resort), but our Hampton's pools were nothing special. I can understand after a long winter wanting to relax by the pool, but all day for three days? And then to not even interact with your children for that long while they swim?

Before I continue my rant, I will disclose that Michael and Ben probably spent about seven hours swimming over three days . And yes, I was not in the water with them for a good chunk of that, especially after they found new friends to play with. Also, Ben's swimming skills have progressed so much that he is fine playing in water over his head, so he doesn't need us in the water with him all the time. But Lori and I did actually swim with the boys and enjoyed our vacation together with them. Michael and I had breath-holding contests, and Ben is so easy to flip (and he loves being flipped).

Why does this get me so annoyed? I wonder if it's because I didn't go swimming as a kid and wished I did. I think that's part of the reason, but I think another part is that some parents are so apt to distract their kids so they themselves won't be bothered. All parents are guilty of this sometimes -- I know I am -- but for hours upon hours during vacation? We didn't have to take the kids hiking. I didn't have to take them bowling (which Ben loved, by the way, asking if we could go again before while in St. George). We didn't have to go to a park to practice baseball (we missed the boys' first practice, so we had and enjoyed or own little practice). Lori and I only have so many years before the boys don't want us being so active in their vacation (I'm pegging this at about seven years to go). And when I see other parents essentially pushing their kids away, I want to scream at them: "Why are you wasting your precious time?"

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