When I grow up, I want to be a ninja

This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun.”
Clark Griswold

We logged 2000 miles on the family vacation in August, driving first to New Mexico to see family—good people, strange people—then road tripping it in the station wagon to Port Aransas, the epicenter of the Redneck Riviera, with our old pals the Tubres.

On the road, both the kids threw up, the dogs had the squirts, Slade—21 months old then—talked and yelled for hours that felt like weeks, and Eli, when not playing videos games or watching movies or vomiting, asked lots of questions:

Eli: How many roads are there in the world?

Me: 300.

. . . . .

Eli: What if you couldn’t ever go pee ever again?

Me: Uh.

Eli: I bet you’d die. Everybody has to pee and poop.

Me: Except butterflies. They don’t poop.

Eli: No, Dad, you’re wrong. Everything poops. Ever. Eee. Thing.

Me: Except butterflies.

. . . . .

Eli: You know what I want to be when I grow up?

Sally: What?

Eli: A ninja.

Sally: A ninja? You want to be a ninja?

Eli: Totally, dude. I’d kill all the bad guys. Pew, pew, pow, pow. That’d be awesome.

. . . . .

Eli: What if everybody in the whole world moved to Texas?

Sally: Um.

Eli: It’d be crazy, dude. Everybody would be fighting everyone all the time.

Sally: Good thing you’re going to be a ninja then.

Family vacations aren’t about relaxation and fun. I learned that as a child, and I see that still as a dad. They’re about busting up routines, seeing people who matter, experiencing the world beyond, and surviving. Most of all surviving.

Or maybe most of all connecting with the kids and Sally who I see so little of.

Whatever they are, I believe in family vacations, even if they’re expensive and the car smells like spilled milk for months and my ears are still ringing from the ruckus in the back seat.

In fact, Sally and I started scheming about our next outing almost as soon as we returned, and then the other night, Sally said she and I and the boys should leave the country next summer.

“You’re not right in the head,” I told her. “You realize that, right?”

And then I told her I was game. I suppose that means I’m not right in the head, either.


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