Knowing-Doing Gap Vacay Win


My sister Rosie, before her visit, told me clearly that she and her four-year-old just wanted to “relax” while they stayed with us. What that meant, I knew, was that they wanted to chill, build lego, swim, eat healthy food, possibly beach, possibly hike. And that’s it. No sight-seeing, no parties, no plans.

She told me this, I know, as a way of telling herself, as well as myself, not to schedule us up with well-intentioned to-do’s that would result in less joy, more stress, less leisure, more pressure. And even though I knew she was right, before their arrival my mind was spinning with options of activities that would make their trip really special.

Fun, fun, fun things like joint tennis lessons, boat rides, trips to the zoo, the natural history museum, the science museum, the sea center, the downtown playground, the beach restaurant with the excellent french fries, that other place with the views, the park with the ducks, the botanical gardens, the water park — these things were on offer, I was game to give them a whirl.

Our boys were clear: they wanted to stay home and play on their own. Moms could provide breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, bedtime stories, and intermittent on demand assistance as requested and only as requested. 

Could we do it? Could Rosie and I resist the urge to push our kids to get out there and do, do, do what we wanted to do, or wanted them to do, more than what they were already doing? 

What they were doing, when left to their own devices, was playing a game involving yelling “Lovie Fun!” while throwing their stuffed animal lovies in the air and running through the house. Also chasing Cleo the cat. And trampolining. And playing catch with stuffed animals from the top bunk in Ax’s room. And of course, lego-ing.

And hours and hours and hours of pool time, which required lifeguarding, witnessing of tricks, goggle management services, and a regular willingness to throw one or the other or both of them in the air while admiring their splashes. Also constant snack provision.

And the boys were in heaven. They loved being in charge, being together, getting to do what they wanted to do the vast majority of the time. We did once drag them to the beach, then had to drag them away. Same with the Natural History museum. But most of the time, the vast majority of the time, when I had the urge to “improve” our situation by changing it, I resisted. And Rosie supported me with that. 

And we took the win. We lounged, we served, we assisted. We let the boys take the lead. We closed that knowing-doing gap and actually did what we knew we should do — much, much less running around than our brains would suggest, than my brain would suggest.  Much less.

And it was awesome. And even fun, fun, fun. And I’m so grateful to have been able to give them and myself this sweet leisurely together time, these truly memorable, connected moments that come in the gaps between the plans, or in the beingness left unplanned and unscheduled.  I’m gonna keep going.