Like many of you with school-aged kids, our family experienced the time-honored tradition of the Spring Break road trip last week. As required by (Murphy’s) law, there were ups and downs, laughter and tears. And throughout the week, I kept thinking my kids were growing up too fast. I wanted to make mental snapshots of those moments—good and bad—just in case it’s true that if you take a picture it will last longer.
We started out in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (a.k.a. Redneck Vegas). Our son played in a soccer tournament there and we cheered him on with applause muffled by mittens and gloves due to the freezing temperatures. There were chapped lips and runny noses, but in spite of the cold, it was a memory. I watched my daughters, the girls who are teetering on the precipice of teenage-hood and all that entails, snuggle in one camping chair, sharing ear buds as they listened to music on my cell phone. Click. A moment to remember.
After the tournament ended, we drove five or six hours to Charleston, South Carolina. While there, we rode a carriage tour, driving through old, antebellum neighborhoods and a boat ride narrated by the captain who shared historical facts about the firing on Fort Sumter. As I watched my kids peering over the side of the boat at dolphins swimming alongside us, I knew it was a memory. Click. Another moment to remember.
Considering that four-fifths of our family enjoys history, this was almost a brilliant, unanimous success. To counteract the educational part of the trip, on the day before we left Charleston, we drove to the beach to find a small area (about the size of, say, five beach towels laid side-by-side) to call our own for a couple of hours. It was a mass of wind-blown and seagull-harassed humanity but it was a place where sand meets ocean so we checked it off our list. Click.
Halfway through the week, we set out for Atlanta, Georgia. It was another long car ride ending in a hotel room check-in, but we were getting to be pros at this…sort of. We sent dad out to the parking lot three times to get things we left in the van thinking we wouldn’t need them in the hotel. The next morning, we toured the Coca-Cola Museum. If you’ve never been there, it’s a combination of propaganda machine, soft drink shrine, amusement park, and free sample bar. In other words, we loved it. Seeing my kids’ faces as they tried a horrible tasting soda from Italy was worth the price of admission. Click.
The night before we left Atlanta, we ran out to get a bite of supper and got caught by an unexpected thunderstorm. Midway between the restaurant where we were trying to eat and our hotel was Centennial Olympic Park. We ran to the shelter of a nearby hamburger stand—closed for supper, unfortunately—to wait out the storm. Under the eaves of the building, we could see the fountain show with shooting water and pulsing lights and rousing, classical music. We watched the water show, punctuated by the thrilling notes of the Olympics theme song. Lightning, quickly followed by rumblings of thunder continued during the display. Then something wonderful happened: my almost thirteen-year old, my daughter who has never been a big fan of thunderstorms, slipped her hand into mine. We held hands and watched both shows—God’s and man’s. We were wet and hungry and a little shaken by the storm, but it was a memory, and a moment I’ll always remember. Click.