While catching up on posts over at Clover Lane, I saw a post about a recent trip to Boston that her family took, which brought back terrible vacation memories for me.
We went to Boston, I think when I was in middle school. Surely it was middle school, because no other time in one's life is filled with that much angst and capacity for humiliation. It's also important to note that, in addition to my age, I was very, very excited about this trip. Some kid I had a crush on (another reason it must have been middle school) had probably mentioned in one off-hand conversation that he liked Boston, so I therefore decided it must be the coolest place in the world.
So we took a family trip to Boston. Our family vacations have always been a mix of camping and sitting around the fire, and then also visiting historical sites. Of course, there was no shortage of these in Boston. We walked the Freedom Trail, saw the "one if by sea" church, etc. None of this is really what I remember.
One day, I think we were in front of Faneuil Hall, watching street performers. This one performer picked me out of the audience to demonstrate something. I was ecstatic. Best moment of my life! I'm practically famous!!!! (Because all emotions in middle school can only be the best or the worst, and must be expressed in multiple exclamation points.)
But, as it turns out, I was the butt of the joke. The performer spent the rest of the time telling everyone that he was really trying to get my younger sister to come forward, but I just wouldn't let her, I had to hog all the attention for myself ..... It was so awful. And it wasn't true! I swear. But that was his schtick, so he kept coming back to it, over and over again, throughout the rest of the performance. I was mortified.
Of course, I would bet that no one else in my family even remembers this moment. Yet I still can't think of it without feeling bitter and a tad bit humiliated. Looking at it as a parent, rather than as an angsty middle schooler, it just points out to me again how many of my children's experiences will be out of my control. My parents took us on a trip that I was so excited for, did lots of activities I wanted to do .... and this is what I remember most strongly from the trip: being humiliated by a street performer. (At least he wasn't a mime. Would that have been worse? I can't decide.)
On the other hand, looking at this awful vacation memory as a somewhat more self-confident and assertive adult, it makes me want to plan a family trip of our own to Boston, just for my sake. I want to go back and reclaim the city that held such interest for me, and have a nice, enjoyable family vacation there where the parts I remember are the historical sites and the fun moments with my husband and kids. So, even though my kids will undoubtedly have painful memories (perhaps caused by callous street performers?), I will also have to remember that it will be within my kids' capacity to rectify/repair those memories at a later date.
Photo Credit: GSOM Student Blog