We are the family who returns to school after spring break just as butt-white as the week before. In fact, one year Eileen returned a little green after having the stomach flu during the entire break. The stars have just never aligned for us to escape the Midwest to someplace warm and I am okay with it. My kids don’t seem to mind because they really don’t
(Perhaps my only parenting accomplishment: lower the expectations to zilch and your kids will appreciate you for all of 15 seconds if you actually do something indulgent like throw a bag of candy in the shopping cart. However this philosophy backfires if your husband is the Fun One and comes home with Garrett’s cheese popcorn on a regular basis or pays them $5 to do a chore he does not want to do.)
In the past, Tom and I would take a few days off of work and visit some local attractions with the kids or go on a short road trip. This break was different. My brother, his wife and their adorable three-year old son were visiting from Germany. (He met a wonderful German girl at a bar while stationed in Italy and they married.) And my sister would also be in town during a 10-hour layover in Chicago. She was heading back home to Ireland after conference in California. (She met a charming Irish lad at a bar in Chicago and they married.)
And my other sister is dabbling in a relationship with a German fella who lives in Denmark. (They met at a bar in Chicago.) If you are noticing a trend, yes, I met Tom during a pub crawl. He is a country boy, but at least from this country. We are waiting for my other brother to hook up with a Swedish girl. So is he.
Okay, so as you can imagine, my family doesn’t get to see each other as often as we like. My kids have met their cousin Finn only one other time when he was 18 months old. Still a baby. Now he is such a little person! I really forgot how fun someone else’s three-year old can be and it made me very melancholy. I can barely remember those days with my own kids. (Now eight and ten.) The years fly by much too quickly even when there are long-ass days that never seem to end.
Every time my kids entered the room, the little guy’s eyes lit up. The cousins were inseparable. You would never know that they did not grow up together. Finn understands both English and German, but while he was here, he spoke Germlish. It didn’t matter.
The three amigos played trains, built forts, raced cars, rough-housed, tickled, beat each other with pillows (and dirty socks), ate lots of treats and ran in circles. Literally. When we were teasing Aidan that his feet were stinky, Finn announced that they smelled like a Odelfassel and let out an infectious giggle. It sounded super cute until my brother explained that it was basically a manure (and other nasty animal innards) spreader used by Bavarian farmers. Love this kid!
The last day, the secret society of Grandpa’s Club had an initiation meeting. Finn was introduced to the hidden place where Eileen, Aidan and Grandpa like to meet and play cards. (And probably sneeze a lot since it’s in the attic.) Finn even learned their classified code to get into the club: inserting your pointer finger up your nose and saying, “Shhhhh!”
The worst part of the whole visit was saying goodbye. Fortunately, Finn was smarter than all of us and decided to skip the farewell hugs and kisses. I did not follow his lead and chose the ugly cry complete with snot and smeared eye make-up.
The kids and I headed back home in a complete funk. Aidan begged to be left alone to do nothing but stare at the TV in the basement. Eileen lost herself on a fashion game on the computer and I laid on the couch for five hours, ignoring the million things that needed to get done around the house.
So tomorrow we will be back in school and will hear about everyone’s sunny vacations to Florida and California.
But no one will top our spring break adventures in Finnland.