Every parent knows this truth: There are two sides to every story.
When one kid comes in screaming about how his sister stole the TV remote, you can bet sister will be two steps behind with her own version of the alleged injustice. So it is with most stories of our life.
We just returned from a big family vacation....the first one in many years that required plane tickets and rental cars. There was lots of saving, planning, researching, and preparations that went into making the trip a success. If you ask me how it was, I'm gonna tell you, "It was awesome."
But that's not really the whole story. Anyone that has traveled knows (and anyone that has traveled with kids REALLY knows) vacations are a mixed bag. It's a big mash-up of really great memories and moments when you question the sanity of taking your family members out of their home environment for more than 24 hours.
Let me illustrate this.
Our vacation this year was to Maui. We were told that snorkeling Molokini Crater was a big "MUST" if you're visiting Maui, so we booked our half-day snorkel boat tour to Molokini for our first day on the island.
If I was a pessimist, this is the story I would tell you....
The snorkel tours go out early. Like, you have to check in at 7:15am. And we chose to do this the very first morning we were in Maui. With two kids who didn't get great sleep the night before.
When we arrived at the dock and got out of the car, the wind was blowing like nobody's business. Hair everywhere. Palm trees swaying. Gutters creaking. Serious, flag-whipping, hold-onto-your-hat wind. Needless to say, the seas were choppy.
We boarded the boat and about half way through our trip out to Molokini (20 minutes into our 5-hour cruise), my daughter starts screaming and crying that her stomach hurts and she's going to throw up. I don't know that I've experienced anything that made me feel more like a desperate, caged animal than anticipating the next 4.5 hours trapped on a boat with a seasick child.
And then I started to feel woozy.
And then the girl sitting behind us got sick and lost her cookies, splattering my poor husband in the process.
Our son was too scared to get in the water at Molokini, so he and my husband sat on the boat enjoying the company of the seasick passengers while everyone else snorkeled for an hour or so.
Not exactly the picture-perfect beginning I had imagined for our family vacation.
But, if I were an optimist here is the story I would tell....
We had a beautiful boat ride to Molokini. Although my daughter felt a little woozy along the way, she managed to hold her breakfast down. The coffee served on the boat was top-notch.
At Molokini, I got to hold my daughters hand and swim with her on her very first snorkel experience. As soon as she stuck her face in the water, she couldn't contain her excitement. A whole new underwater world was revealed to her in real-life clarity and she was pointing and squealing in delight as we floated along observing the wonders of the sea. I couldn't understand much of what she was yelling through her snorkel tube, but the emotion of it came through loud and clear: Pure Joy.
My son, at the tender age of five, couldn't get over his fear of the choppy water to try snorkeling at Molokini. He attempted to get in the water repeatedly, but was scared off each time by the rocking of the boat and the water splashing up at unpredictable intervals. But lucky for him, we had a second snorkel stop on our tour. His sister and I spent the whole ride to "Turtle Town" convincing him that he would love snorkeling and he might even see Nemo.
At Turtle Town, the little guy overcame his fear and got in the water. Victory!!
Watching our kids' very first snorkel experience in one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii was a highlight of our trip. Introducing your kids to a new experience and watching them love it as much as you hoped they would is about as good as it gets as a parent.
And on top of that, the dolphins.
As our snorkel boat was motoring out of Molokini Crater, the captain suddenly powered down the engines and announced the presence of dolphins off the side of the boat. They were pretty far off, and on the opposite side from where we were sitting, so we didn't get a great view. But as the boat motored slowly away from Molokini, the dolphins came into full view.
At first they were difficult to decipher from the curve of the waves on the ocean. Then we saw them for real. And there were more squeals of delight. First a pair, then a group of four, then a whole pod....at least 20, maybe more....just bobbing about in the ocean around our boat. As our family leaned over the edge to get a closer look, the boat got quiet and we were completely entranced. Never in my 43 years have I seen dolphins in the wild, up close and personal. They were beautiful and graceful. I have a hard time describing the experience because it was almost other-worldly. The quiet awe that descended up on our boat at the sight of the dolphins was a goose-bump inducing, holy moment.
Turns out that choppy seas and puke balanced out with spectacular snorkeling and dolphin sightings make for a pretty good start to a Hawaii vacation. And a pretty good story, no matter which side you look at.