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No Breaking Over Spring Break

Spring break is a highly overrated occasion in this culture. I only know about the overindulging-slash-beach blanket bingo notion of this week off from school because my wife went to graduate school in Daytona Beach, Florida, Mecca for spring break hedonists nation-wide. Not watching television can really leave you out of the loop.

Needless to say, we didn’t raise our kids with high expectations for the nine free days they had each March; they were in need of rest from the rigors of academia and we, the parents, were about ready for the loony bin after surviving the usual long winter of holidays, birthdays, colds, flus, and endless rain.

It was a few years ago that we bought a tent trailer and made spring break an occasion.

An occasion our older kids viewed with horror.

But what else were we going to do? Three kids plus two dogs plus two moms equals minimal budget for elective activities. The tent trailer is our hotel room on wheels, equipped with everything but a bathroom, and plenty of room for our space-loving offspring.

It is still camping though, and there seems to be a constitutional prejudice against camping among teenagers. Well, ours anyway. Our little guy loves the tent trailer, and we love having him in it—he can’t damage anything that isn’t ours, and if he’s a little noisy, so what?

So we try to make it user-friendly. There are electronics, portable DVD players and foods we’d never buy in real life. Most objections can be overcome if you throw enough Oreos at them.

This year, we decided to live it up for spring break and rent a house on the beach and forego the tent trailer because it was probably our last spring break with everyone on deck. With the oldest college-bound in the fall, who knows if he’ll opt in for outings when he has the choice (and can utilize the always-available excuse of homework to avoid hard feelings).

And it went pretty well. Admittedly, it was no Daytona Beach. I chose the destination based on a book I’m working on, which meant an isolated, windswept locale, but there was sand. And the weather cooperated surprisingly well; there were breaks in the rain and even sun once or twice. Basically Portland weather, so we were right at home.

But at home, we would never have napped, read or hot-tubbed like we did on vacation. Chores and school work would have beckoned. My wife’s co-workers would have pelted her with work-related questions, and texting would have taken up much of the time. On an island in another country, texting is too expensive as a lifestyle, and while our bathtub at home is deep, it is nothing like a six-person hot tub with a view of swells rivaling Malibu.

And while there weren’t Oreos, there were lots of other delicacies on hand to keep everyone happy. It wasn’t beach babes and volleyball or drinking and dancing, but it was a break, and no one came home broken.