Before we go any further, let me point out that by ‘dad’ I mean it as an all-encompasing term for my dad Kevin, my step-dad Bill and my father-in-law Rob.
Part of the reason for this characterization is that there are some things that are simply ‘dad moves’. Chief among them is corny, mostly awful jokes, but as my wife Kate can attest to, I have had those down for quite some time, so that was nothing new. What was new was the sense of military-level planning that took over me once we set out to iron out all the of details surrounding our summer vacation.
As regular readers of this column may recall, we recently became a two-car family when we added a Volvo wagon, needing the extra space that our Nissan Sentra can not supply. Which it proved this weekend, when I had the ‘Silver Surfer’ packed full for a routine trip with Abby to my mom’s house to deliver her Mother’s Day present.
Since we now have our very own ‘Family Truckster’ I have dived deep into Clark Griswold territory in the planning of our family vacation. By this point, I have spent so many hours on-line scouring consumer feedback sites that I’m pretty sure that my dreams are now taking the form of Tripadvisor reviews.
On a related note, I’ve found that reading one-star Tripadvisor reviews can be a great source of entertainment. There are few places where a similar level of passion shines through in the writing as when you have - in your opinion - received bad service and take to the internet to voice your frustrations.
Before Abby was born last November, I asked dozens of people when you reach certain milestones, or when exactly, after having a child, do certain changes occur. I have to admit that ironically, this is one that I hadn’t planned on.
It wasn’t always this way, when I was younger, four of my friends piled into my Saturn for a weekend in North Bay, and we stayed at the first motel we came across. Now, not a chance. I’d spend hours reading reviews, looking at maps in satellite, street view and topography settings and finally, after all the deliberations were done, spending just as much time looking for a rate that saved me $1.37 over the course of the entire stay.
As I said before, I might have laughed at my dad once upon a time, but that was before I saw that it can actually pay off to be diligent. For example, after reading what felt like 500 different reviews of a beachfront hotel that seemed like a safe choice, I discovered that it sits not too far from a storm water management site, and there is an advisory not to swim in the area.
I guess it’s that sort of payoff that leads so many men, and women to exhaust every option when searching for a vacation destination. I would’ve felt terrible if we traveled that many miles just to find out that the water is on an Elgin Pond-level.
I know that it’s probably foolish to expect a perfect family vacation - the Chevy Chase movies taught me that much - but, my wife does so much for our family, as we showed her this past weekend on her first-ever Mother’s Day - that vacation should be her chance to relax, so maybe that’s why so many dads chose to shoulder the worry.