It’s time to get back into harness after a perfectly delightful summer break, which included plenty of fun in the sun, some intriguing backroads exploration, and a restorative helping of lengthy naps.  There was lots of quality time with family, with many moments to recall fondly in days to come.

Other times, I can only hope memory will mercifully obscure, and let’s face it:  that’s always the case in the long-running drama series that is anyone’s authentic family life. A particular episode in the latter category provided a few key reminders for future reference:

  1. Plans with small children for special outings are splendid starting points, so leap in and plan away with the most golden intentions. But when the inevitable wrench is thrown, the prevailing law of all nature applies:  Adapt Quickly, or Die.
  2. If a youngster who is the adored center of this special outing seems a little off his feed, his usual enthusiasm noticeably absent, you might pause for a root-cause analysis, as the process improvement gurus like to phrase it.
  3. If optimism outwits pragmatism in the eternal sunshine of a grandmother’s heart, and you elect to proceed anyway, you better hope you have stashed paper towels and plastic bags in the car. (Come to think of it, no matter where and for what reason you are transporting small children, these are essential survival tools.)
  4. No matter how superior the hand-eye coordination, not even Mario Andretti or his ilk could drive a car with a stick shift in the middle of traffic and hold open a barf bag for a backseat occupant at the same time. Let the child aim for the bag while you put safety first, and to heck with the car interior. There’s always the professional car wash.  (There you will be forced to stomach, forgive the pun, an exorbitant up-charge for carpet cleaning, and gratefully accept the air freshener.)
  5. The resiliency of small children, however awe-inspiring in the universal sense, may rankle in its swiftness. By the time you have hosed off the floor mats, given the carpets and seats your utmost with a fat roll of paper towels, and rinsed and tossed the poor child’s outfit into the laundry, he is beginning to feel better, and may soon inquire about re-starting to the original destination. Only you can decide whether to tempt the Digestive Gods one more time, but now might be the time to shove pragmatism ahead of optimism with a firm push.  In our case, affirmation of that wisdom was provided by Nature, soon enough.
  6. A mandated recuperative period may involve special benefits that are not part of the average day for the Adored Sufferer. What’s not to like about extra access to the afternoon cartoons on TV, the vast expanse of the couch all to himself, perpetual refills for his water cup, and tender, frequent solicitations as to his well-being?
  7. And so there should be no surprise at his reluctance when the hour requires you to say, “Time to go home, Buddy.” But you may instantaneously block out the sordid details of the whole yucky business when he pleads, “Oh, no!  Can’t I stay just a little bit longer?”