To my wife and 8-year-old son, summer has endless possibilities. They want to do something. They want to do everything.
About a week ago, we received the city’s “summer guide to mind-blowing fun” in the mail. Not only did this guide give my wife and kid some ideas for the summer, it also gave them even more ideas.
“We don’t have money for all these ideas,” I said. “And I don’t have time away from work.”
My wife informed me that her plans weren’t set in stone. They were just ideas.
Needless to say, I couldn’t control what my wife and kid were going to do or devise for the summer while I was at work. When I’d get home, I’d have to go along with whatever they threw at me.
For example, they planned my first day off -- museum trips, playtime at the beach, a visit to a water slide park and fancy restaurant outings. When I asked how we could afford to do all that stuff, even if we could fit it all in 24 hours and still get in a night’s sleep, I became the bad guy.
“Guess who’s being a sour sport?” my son said.
My wife told the kid that I wasn’t being a sour sport. I was only looking out for the financial interests of our family. Thank goodness my wife understood where I was coming from.
“How about a trip to Hawaii?” she suggested instead. “We’ll only go for a few days.”
So when I said we couldn’t afford museum trips, playtime at the beach, a visit to a water slide park and fancy restaurant outings, Hawaii is her next idea?
While I was at work the next day, my wife put together a Hawaiian package, complete with car service to and from airports, air travel plans, hotel and dining arrangements, and activity and event schedules.
I suggested instead one simple, inexpensive trip to the Grand Canyon for the summer.
“You don’t have to pay to look into the canyon,” I said, “and we can rent an RV, which doubles as transportation and sleeping arrangements.”
“I can’t sleep in an RV,” my wife replied. “I’m a girl. I need comfort, showers . . . amenities.” Then she told me an RV would go against everything I stood for -- it costs money.
“Guess who’s really being expensive?” my son chimed in.
“Oh, Hawaii isn’t expensive?” I asked.
“The trip isn’t set in stone,” my wife responded. “It’s just an idea -- something to think about.”
But really, what was there to think about? Airplanes, hotels . . . lying on the beach with nothing to do but not think about work, bills or when I have to change the oil in the cars . . .
“Wow, you found some great deals,” I said when I saw her Hawaiian research. “When do you want to go?”
But I soon saw that, as good of a deal as it was, we still were in no position to make the trip.
“I knew it,” I said. “Why do you do this?” I bawled out my wife. “You come up with stuff we can’t afford, we get excited about it, and then we realize what we knew all along -- we can’t afford it.”
I was pretty angry. It shocked my wife. My son noticed my wife’s response to my behavior.
“Guess who’s in trouble now?” he said. Then he saw my response to his behavior and he answered his own question. “Me?” he said.
The next day I woke for work, and moved through the house with very little communication between my family and me. When I got home, I apologized to them for getting so angry the night before. They apologized to me for getting my hopes up, though I couldn’t let them take the blame.
Ah, why not? I thought. Let them take the blame.
I accepted their apology.
I accepted their apology.
“I just wanted us to have a good summer,” my wife confessed.
And that’s when I got the idea. We could do a camping trip . . . in the backyard. The barbeque could be our campfire, the neighborhood pool could be our lake, the city pathways near our house could be our hiking trails, and our lawn could be our campground. Best of all, it would cost us nothing.
Everyone was on board. We swam, roasted marshmallows, took in the local floral and fauna, and before it got dark we pitched a tent for sleeping.
“Where’s your sleeping bag?” I asked my wife.
“Oh, I’m sleeping inside,” she said. “I’m a girl. I need comfort, showers . . . air conditioning.”
That night in the tent as sweat poured off my body, I listened to the AC motor turn while it cooled my wife inside the house. I pretended the hard ground was as comfortable as my nice soft bed, all the while devising a surefire plan to get to Hawaii next year.