Give Me a Break
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It’s time to plan a family vacation. My kids have always found the front hall closet a fun and rewarding "adventure" for a week or two. Give them a flashlight and some Twinkies, and they’re good to go. To make it a "Wild Kingdom" type of getaway, I just throw in the pet hamster and snake and watch nature take its course.

My husband thought the kids might enjoy a change of scenery this time around, however, and brought home several brochures of cave spelunking, helicopter skiing, bungee jumping and other “extreme” type of vacations.

“Haven’t you ever wanted to jump off a bridge?” he asked me.

“Every day,” I answered.

“Seriously, sweetheart, extreme vacations are a great way to bond the family and release stress at the same time,” my husband said.

I thought back to my husband’s Grammy playing naked water polo in the Marriott Courtyard pool last summer and wondered just how much more ‘extreme’ a vacation I could take.

“And extreme vacations don’t have to mean rustic. Many are very upscale. Look, here’s a trip to Antarctica complete with gourmet meals,” he said.

I interpreted "gourmet meal" as being carried away by a polar bear that has sadly mistaken me for an oversized seal in my Louis Vuitton leather parka.

“And this one incorporates a social cause,” my husband continued pointing to a glossy picture of a family preparing fully equipped backpacks for the Emperor Penguins prior to their now famous march over hundreds of treacherous miles. (Couldn’t the family have given the birds a ride in their luxury all-terrain tour bus instead?)

“Or, if you can’t decide, just choose from this handy chart,” he persevered.

“I’ll take ‘Solitary Confinement’ for 100, Alec.”

“C’mon. The kids will love it,” my determined husband said.

I looked into the backyard where the sun danced across the climbing rocks and the tall sugar maple held up the tire swing and tree house. Then I turned to the living room where our kids were staring mindlessly at the TV.

“Kids, would you like to go on an extreme vacation instead of the front hall closet this spring?” I asked.

No response.

“I can’t say they’re enthused by this, honey,” I said to my husband.

He walked over and shut off the TV (apparently embracing the extreme vacation tenet to risk life and limb).

“DAD! What are you doing? We were watching THAT!” they cried.

“Tell me what show you were watching, and I’ll give you fifty bucks,” he challenged.

“The Simpsons,” said one.

“American Idol,” said another.

“60 Minutes,” said the last, glaring at the others for forgetting their agreed-upon pat answer.

Their father calmed them down and asked them to select a family vacation destination – front hall closet (exotic pet animals and junk food included) or Parachuting in Paraguay, perhaps.

“Can’t we just watch “Fear Factor” while washing dishes for mom?” they asked, recalling a particularly favorite moment when the brothers challenged each other to eat dinner remnants out of the garbage disposal.

Their discouraged father turned the TV back on and left the room, his shoulders hunched, his chin down. My heart ached for the good and dedicated man. It was at this moment I decided to help him achieve what he so desired. I vowed to push him off a bridge the first chance I got.

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