Adopting a New Outlook

Wine + Smarties posts are inspired by the things I’m passionate about. Moving forward, I’ll be adding travel to the list and sharing the experiences I’ve had as well as the ones I’m pining for. Happy reading!

“Travelling with kids.” Are these the most cringe-inducing words in the English language? Aside from “mom, look what’s in the toilet” and “Knock knock!” they just might be.

It’s not easy to travel with any child, but for families of kids with different needs, finding the right vacation experience can be even trickier. Typical family attractions are often a recipe for disaster resulting in over-stimulation and meltdowns (them) and extreme frustration and binge-drinking (you).

Make mine a double.

Make mine a double.

For our family, ADHD, poor self-regulation and a determination to push every limit means we have to choose our excursions carefully and manage our expectations about what will happen once we get there.

The first time I travelled with H we took a 4-day Disney cruise to Florida and the Bahamas with my best friend and her daughter. Naturally (because I’m stupid), I had envisioned H and I sprawled on comfy deck chairs, snuggling, reading and colouring while Frozen played on the giant screen. We’d get up only to refill our soft-serve ice cream and to cool off in the pool. In port, we would shop and explore. I fantasized about finding a little restaurant with an ocean view where we would sip wine and chocolate milk while gazing out at the ocean.

I know. Hilarious.

First day at sea

First day at sea

In reality, my daughter did not want to sit quietly and watch a movie. She wanted to move, to test the limits of everything. How many times could she run on the deck before the lifeguard told her to quit it? How far could she climb on the outside rail of the pool before I told her to quit it? How many times could she pester me for ice cream before I gave up on the quaint, ocean front restaurant and settled for plastic chairs in front of Baskin Robbins? Lots, that’s how many.

Yes, as a matter of fact I would love to spend two hours watching you play arcade games instead of sunning myself.

Yes, as a matter of fact I would love to spend two hours watching you play arcade games instead of sunning myself.

Very quickly I was forced to confront the fact that the mother-daughter adventures I’d been fantasizing about were probably not going to happen the way I envisioned them. My dreams weren’t dead, they just needed a generous sprinkling of reality.

Around the same time, I started paying more attention to all the material things we were acquiring as a family, and the sense of entitlement to these “things”, my daughter and I both had. $100 rain boots, a Disney cruise, $400 for 7th birthday party entertainment. I was setting an unsustainable bar, foolishly trying to make up for the lack of new toys, cute clothes and experiences missing from her early years.Naively, I thought spoiling her with “stuff” might also prevent the conflict and heartache many adopted kids face in adolescence.

“What do you mean you hate me and want to find your birth mom? What about all those cute dresses I bought you in elementary school?”

For real.

And when we welcomed L into our family, making better decisions and setting a good example became even more important.

After some strongly worded self-talk and a few embarrassing CARD DECLINED incidents (damn machines, so unreliable), I realized something had to give. Eventually, new fantasies about travel started taking shape and I started looking for places to go that would meet the girls’ need for fun and entertainment, fuel my passion for new experiences, and help us learn about the world together.

Here’s our list so far:

-Saving Sea Turtles in Cancun
-Surf school in Costa Rica
-Kenyan Safari

Anything to add?