Vacation Angst

Tom and Dee and cousin Key

April 8, 2014

By Tom and Dee and cousin Key

Dear Grandparenting: I thought I was so on top of it. The Fabulous Family Vacation would rock! I would dig deep into my pocket and treat my daughter, her hubby and my two grandkids an all expenses paid one-week trip to the Disney World resort in Tampa. Isn’t this what grandparents do? They occasionally pay for things their children cannot and treat the grandkids to a wholesome adventure they will never, ever forget. My grandkids are seven and nine-years old who have never been on a plane or done anything fancy. Their parents live paycheck to paycheck. Just two hardworking folks!

So I picked up the phone and called my daughter’s place. Her husband answered. I told him I was ready and willing to book any week in Disney this summer. He said they’d have to talk it over. The next day my daughter called. She basically said thanks but no thanks. Her husband “doesn’t do vacations anymore.” I said Disney is the vacation-of-a-lifetime for the grandkids. She was firm. So that’s that for now. It’s back to the drawing board. We live on opposite coasts. The last time I visited I felt like I got in their way. They were already tired when they came home from work and tried to stay awake to entertain me. While he works Saturdays she drives the kids to sports and other activities. That’s why I had such high hopes for Disney! It wears me down emotionally trying to be a long-distance grandparent. I just don’t see how I fit in. I sure didn’t plan on being just another stranger to my grandkids. Any ideas? T.M. Bakersfield, Calif.

Dear T.M.: Regarding Disney, they rejected your offer — not you! In case you didn’t know, nearly 75 percent of American workers leave vacation days on the table. Ambition, fear of being fired, feeling indispensable, and self-imposed getaway guilt have made the U.S. one of the most vacation-averse industrialized nations. In today’s brutal economic climate, vacation angst booms.

We suspect your interpretation of events has led you to lapse into emotional thinking. Feelings are not facts. You’ve presented indisputable evidence of an overworked family struggling to keep it together. Instead of personalizing the situation and feeling hurt, you’re better served by brainstorming alternatives that more fully recognize the wants and needs of your daughter and son-in-law — the gatekeepers of your young grandchildren.

Don’t despair. Technology is one quick and easy way to bridge the geographic gap between grandparents and grandchildren; FaceTime is a relatively simple Apple program that allows distant users to see and talk with each other. What’s your son-in-law’s weakness? Golf? Fishing? How about a short weekend trip that allows him to indulge his passion? How about floating the idea of a weekender to an amusement park in their neck of their woods? Don your thinking cap. Your grandchildren are as close as your ability to strategize.

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The Missus from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. was caring for granddaughter Ellen while her parents were away. After Ellen came down with a nasty cold and stayed home for three days, she said she needed a note excusing her absence. The Missus told her to jot down how the note should read.

“Please excuse Lisa from being absent on Jan. 31. Also Jan. 32 and 33.”

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Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.