It’s funny how the meaning of “spring break” can change over time. At one point in my life, it meant not having to wake up early for school, and being able to watch television or ride bikes all day long, for a whole week. In undergrad, it often meant a bus ride to someplace hot with a beach and your closest friends to escape the brutal rigor of academia. As a working professional, without children, it didn’t mean anything special at all. Now, as a father, it means something I never saw coming – planning a fun-filled, thoughtful, and dare I say meaningful week for children!
It MUST be fun-filled, or children will drive you insane and remind you incessantly about how bored they are. It MUST be thoughtful, or you’ll be looking in the mirror at the end of the week lamenting the fact that the trip and activities you knew would be an absolute hit were absolutely hated by your kids, who are no longer talking to you (insert your kid’s voice here: “Dad, what on earth made you think we would want to ____? What were you thinking?” So much easier said than done. Especially for children born in the 2000s. Somehow, my “I’m just happy not to be in school – I won’t bother a soul – you won’t even know I’m in the house” mentality was not passed down to my offspring. And finally, I say meaningful, because as I think about how quickly time flies and about my own mortality, I’ve started to become more conscious about creating meaningful memories for those I leave behind. Considering all this, at times I have found the prelude to spring break stressful, stressful, and yes – stressful. Am I alone?
Interestingly enough, I’ve realized that it is all worth it. I’ve realized that there is no substitute for time spent face to face. Whether I’m breaking up fights, having frustrating conversations about gratitude, or reluctantly pulling out my wallet for the ___ time, I’m leaving a mark that can never be erased. I’m teaching even when I don’t know it. I’m making people who depend on me feel safe and secure. I’m building a foundation for my children’s self-confidence, self-worth, and identity. I’m showing by example how a father resolves conflict, listens with humility, and loves his children. And equally important, I’m finding out what I’m made of – all thanks to some kids and spring break challenges I never saw coming.
Copyright 2018, Mervin A. Bourne, Jr.
Mervin A. Bourne, Jr. is an attorney and author of “A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Son”, available on Amazon.com in paperback and e-book. You can also find him on Twitter @MervinBourne.