For all of those wondering how my spring break went this year — don’t ask!
If I wanted to teach my grade-school daughters the difference between beer pong and beer bongs, I would have already. Of course it would be right before the Division of Family Services started leaning on our doorbell.
This spring break my family was trapped in a live version of “Girls Gone Wild.”
When we drove 1,000 miles to enjoy a quiet beach vacation, I wasn’t planning on addressing any milestones. However, according to the owner of our rented condo, this was the first time in the history of Gulf Shores, Ala., that hordes of barely dressed and terribly over-served collegians stormed the beach section directly below our family’s balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
If there had been 50 students, we could have managed, but with 2,500 under-aged partiers flying their college and fraternity flags and doing things that no one wants to witness, many parenting teachable moments occurred. At every turn, we desperately needed to protect our children faster than a student could empty a beer bong. For the layperson, this is a funnel Chunnel to the gut for full cans of beer because heaven forbid they take sips of their adult beverages like the rest of the adults in free world.
During our weeklong stay in our private skin exhibition and alcohol dispensary, our naïve daughters, aged 8 and 9, matured more quickly than we had intended. I wasn’t planning on addressing these topics or behaviors until they were old enough to drive to one of these drink-a-thons. But alas, we drove them there.
It truly was a bipolar experience, and when I wasn’t holding my breath that my children would pay attention to their surroundings, I was shielding their eyes when they were.
Now, before I had kids, I signed up for all the challenging tasks. I was willing to teach my children authoritatively about all of life’s milestones. Like when a tear-stained toddler cries out why the wasp that stung him hates him. Or when a child asks, “Have you ever lied to me, Mama?” And of course the “Birds and the Bees” conversation, which is atop many scary parenting lists. I was planning to grab that one by the horns and directly give my best Dr. Ruth impersonation.
We weren’t even going for parents of the year. Isn’t it fabulous that my young daughters are aptly prepared for anything now? For example:
Our daughters are now proficient in telling whether a person passed out cold in the sand is alive or dead.
“Dad, is that guy dead over there?” asked my daughter in a panic.
“No, he’s fine. But look at the time! Time to head back into the condo!” said my husband.
Of course in the time it took for us to pull together all of the beach toys, towels, umbrellas and chairs, the ambulance crew was working on the “dead guy,” and another extreme partier decided to purge his stomach contents directly in view of us.
I’m sure this sounds humorous to some of you, with the exception of parents who had college students at Gulf Shores last week. But let me assure you, I wasn’t ready to teach my girls about drinking games, or how all those girls had earned their Mardi Gras beads around their necks — they weren’t for sale for my princesses.
When rocking my babies to sleep many years ago, I stroked their heads, humming lullabies and imagining all of the wonderful possibilities to come. Baby’s first step, learning to talk, dressing themselves for the first time, or driving a car, those are the stellar moments.
If only those college kids’ parents had been there to witness their babies on the beach. They would have been, oh, so proud!