Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

More Vacation August 7, 2013

I know, it’s painful to hear about other people’s good times. There are even studies about how looking at other people’s vacation pictures on Facebook makes one more unhappy. I hate to do it to you, but see, this is all I’ve been doing.

Being a teacher is hard, and I never stop thinking about better ways to do things in my classes or thinking about my research projects; however, the best part of being a teacher is having some time in the summer to let all that ruminate.

In the name of rumination, P and I took S and G to the Jersey Shore for a week to play on the beach and visit with Nana and PopPop. We had a great trip! Again, I’ll choose some highlights:

  • Riding the Lewes Delaware/Cape May Ferry. We drove 3 hours to the ferry, and just happened to get there at the right time. Whew! Especially since I had read the time wrong. It was lovely to get on the ferry, not have to drive on I-95, and to watch the dolphins and people enjoy their time on the water. I love ferries. The boys particularly enjoyed seeing the lighthouses, big life boats, and going to the bathrooms.
  • The beach was a big hit this year. Seamus loved going into the waves and trying to jump them. He still wanted to hold hands, but he was much more confident in his abilities. He even took a few full on in the face and didn’t get upset. Gilbert liked it, but he preferred to play in the really big sandbox that is the beach. He built castles, dug holes, buried his feet, and generally got filthy with sand. He did go out into the waves to jump a few saying, “Fun! Fun! Fun!” every time.
  • One day we rented a surrey to ride on the boardwalk, and it was a blast until it started pouring on us. We got the boys out of the front basked and wedged them in between us to keep them warm. It didn’t dampen their spirits at all, and they were keen to go for another ride. Another day we rented bikes with kid seats on the back and we tooled around on the boardwalk and rode up to the light house and back. Gilbert, on the back of my bike, declared “I’m having SO MUCH FUN!” We swapped kids at the halfway point, and Seamus (who is just under the 40lb limit on the seat) started swaying back and forth on my bike. When he realized he might knock us over, he sat ramrod straight for 10 minutes, until I figured out that he actually need permission to move.
  • On the rainy day, we watched Lady and the Tramp. I have now answered approximately 10,000 questions about mean dogs, muzzles, bad cats, why bad cats want to steal milk from a baby, the pound, and dogs who live in houses.
  • The amusement rides on the boardwalk were a huge hit! Gilbert has been saying he wanted to go to the Tourney Towns for his birthday, and we finally figured out that he means an amusement park. So we took them for a little taste of the rides. Seamus was fearless, wanting the big ones. He loved one called Rip Tide, which was “The biggest belly tickler ever!” Both boys got a big kick out of the motorcycle ride, and Patrick and I went on a roller coaster with them, which they loved. The rides get them a little wound up, or a lot!, and they were running amok, and Gilbert lost his cool when it was time to leave.
  • Seamus played 200 games of Dora the Explorer Candyland with PopPop. They invented rules that made it more interesting, but I still had trouble getting into it. Nana told stories about the skunk living under the cottage, and Gilbert asked me to carry him back and forth.
  • They’ve been talking about their beach trip incessantly since we got back. However, they were so happy to be back, kissing their beds and chairs, and saying hello to the house.

I read two books at the beach. Nurture Shock was interesting in that it explained that our usual approaches to some behaviors actually cause the behavior to continue rather than to quash it. They take up lying, sibling relationships, and praise for “smarts.” I felt pretty good about my approaches to parenting afterward, so the most useful thing I got was praise for specifics and only occasionally, respond to kids’ language, and ensure that siblings are having a good time playing together, because if they’re having fun together and interacting with each other, they are probably building a relationship for the future.

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