Doggone Vacation

We have a vacation condo on a lake about three hours from our house. It happens to be the same lake that Hubby's family used to frequent when he was a kid. And for a year now, he has been asking his mother to come with us for a weekend. She has been saying no, mostly using her dog as an excuse.

This past weekend, he asked her to come with us again, and suggested that she bring the dog.

I don't know about you, but to me, three little boys+a baby+a dog+a MIL+a three-hour car trip=something that didn't sound fun at all!

In fact, I was dreading it a little bit.

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually pretty lucky - when it comes to MILs, I have a pretty good one. Yes, she freely gives unsolicited advice, but the woman raised eight children. I have found over the years that her advice is usually dead on.

"Look at it this way," Hubby reasoned, "if we're thinking about getting a dog, this will be a good way to test it out."

Testing out how the dog stresses out the MIL, which stresses out the Hubby, which stresses me out, which upsets the boys, who get the dog all riled up, which stresses out the MIL.

You mean that kind of test?

I had one response to that:

Meet my new boyfriend, Paul Hobbs.

Regardless of my opinion, we loaded everyone up and set off, me in the backseat with the kids, and MIL up front with the dog on her lap.

And do you know that I heard not one peep from that dog the whole trip?  (Can't say the same for the children.) And Hubby actually had a nice conversation with his mother.

In fact, the MIL and the dog were far from a problem at all. The only "problems" we experienced were the ones we usually have.

Despite being told to go potty before we set out, everyone had to go halfway through the trip. And stopping the car always makes the baby wake up, which makes him cry the remainder of the trip.

Which means that Mommy cannot read the three back issues of In Style magazine that she brought with her because it is the only chance she gets to read them.

We made it to the condo by about 9:30 p.m., well past everyone's bedtime.

That's when Slim found the dog's squeaky toy. Let me tell you a little about a squeaky dog toy in the hands of an 8-year-old with ADHD.

Torture people, pure torture!

In fact, I'm quite certain I read somewhere that the government is considering replacing waterboarding with an eight-year-old repeatedly squeaking a dog toy as a means of coercing prisoners into spilling their country's secrets.

Still no barking from the dog, no stressing from the MIL.

The next day, on the way home from the waterpark, the four-year-old sat down in the middle of the parking lot, just sat down because he was too tired to continue walking. And as I pulled him by the arm into the elevator of our condo, a group of young, good-looking guys got on with us. They saw me yank him by his arm, and they were extra nice to him on the ride up (you know, because of his bitchy, psycho mother).

"Hey Buddy, can you push number three for us?" "Great job, Pal!"

The same guys who were partying on their deck into the wee hours of the morning.

But MIL and the dog slept through it all.

The baby, Hubby, and me...not so much. We were all up at four o'clock in the morning listening to the party revelers out on their deck next to us. They all went to bed shortly after 4:15 a.m. Baby...didn't fall back to sleep until 5:45 a.m. Then I slept until 9:30 a.m. missing the trip to our favorite cafe for breakfast (I thought it was a little too quiet in there).

At least they brought me a cinnamon roll.

Then there was the boat incident during which the six-year-old spilled blue Gatorade all over, and as the boat was rocking and knocking us all around while we tried to clean it up, the dog and the MIL were simply enjoying the breeze and the sunshine.

All in all, it was a great weekend. A car trip, a boat ride, a condo with seven people plus a dog - there's no way everything was going to go smoothly.

But I really think Hubby enjoyed showing his mom how much their old vacation spots have changed and how some things have stayed the same. For her part, MIL was sweet, helpful, easy-going, and kept the unsolicited advice to a minimum.

And the boys loved taking care of the dog, who was easy-going as well. Knox, who has said on many occasions that we will never get a dog, even said to me, "Guess what, Mommy? I'm ready to get a dog."


"And you can help me take care of it." (I could have seen where that one was going from across the lake.)

Anyway, MIL will be 83 in August. Even though it seems like she's still going strong, one never knows. I'm glad she was able to come with us, bring the dog, and enjoy a (mostly) stress-free weekend.

Photo by Kathy Glow

Have you ever traveled with in-laws?  Or a dog?  How'd that work out for you?

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