It doesn’t get much more spectacular than this. Jagged black rock underfoot, ocean spray on my cheek, thundering waves in my ear and the hot Hawaiin sun beating down on it all. This cliff feels a little closer to the Creator. It smells like vacation: salt water, sunscreen and those little hotel soaps.
Sure, there are still meals to scrounge and pull-ups to change. Public toilets are infinitely more scary with their wide bowls and roaring flushes. I slink out of airport washrooms with an apologetic shrug. Fellow travelers must wonder what cruel torture my pint sized offspring is enduring as she shrieks and wails her displeasure. I can only hope their concerns are put to rest with her happy shouts of “I pee, Daddy! I pee!” as she runs down the concourse.
Bedtime is lost in the shuffle, though wake up time remains absolute, even with the time change. Communal sleeping arrangements are not that relaxing. Less so than ever when the eldest child begins puking up every thing she has ever eaten.
Apparently Gravol is one of the only things I forgot in my 43 hours of packing and re-packing. The U.S. has 17 flavours of M&Ms, but no Gravol (a foolproof cure for nauseated Canadian children, in case you’re wondering). So, the wee hours of the morning are spent re-decorating the bathroom at Waikiki Best Western, wide bowls and all.
Fortunately, after a few hours, her stomach is empty and she’s feeling much better. Now, she’s hungry. I may never be hungry again.
The continental breakfast wins us over, despite the cold eggs and warm milk. The fresh pineapple is sublime and POG (passion-orange-guava juice) is a new favourite. We are bound and determined to enjoy all activities which are preceded by the word “complimentary”.
Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart. When we show up with our 3 kids, 7 carry-on bags and Tigger-themed stroller, we get looks that are half admiring, half pitying and half horrified. Don’t ask me how that math works, but it is predictable. Whether on a plane, tour bus or trendy restaurant we seem to cause a stir. It’s not like we have that many kids!
Also predictable is the doting Grandma-type we find everywhere we go. They are sweet and kind and, often, determined to give my children candy. Should I mention the puking to them at this point? Also, does our “no taking candy from strangers rule” apply to Dorothy from Saskatoon? After all, she has been sitting across the aisle for the past hour AND she’s Canadian.
The Polynesians believe that we are all “ohana” = family. These warm and approachable people called us “cousin” wherever we went this week. The cynic in me wonders if this is just a gimmick to charm tips from the wide-eyed tourists. Perhaps, but not entirely. After all, this is a culture that uses the same word for “hello”, “goodbye” and “I love you”.
And I think they are right. As crazy and overwhelming as traveling with kids can be, most of the people we meet along the way are friendly and helpful. They’ve carried our bags, entertained our children, given us directions, advice and even money. B fell in love with a small wooden frog, but we had used up all our cash. The lady beside us whipped out her wallet, before we could even protest, and bought it for her. We had never seen her before and we never will again.
Strangers like that remind me we really do come from the same big family. I’m thrilled my kids have seen the amazing sights, woven toys out of palm fronds, made music with bamboo sticks, learned to snorkel on the reef and eaten pig that had been roasted in a pit all day long. But mostly I’m glad they’ve learned that all people, even those with strange customs living in far off lands, are just cousins they’ve never met.
So here’s me, knowing that someday I will be the kindly Grandma across the aisle, foisting lint-covered candy on strange children everywhere I go.