To Be More Like Clark Griswold On Our Family Vacations
2 years, 8 months.
Last week when I wrote “My Kid Doesn’t Easily Sleep In The Same Room As Me,” in reference to our recent family vacation, I ended by saying, “I just had to ask myself, ‘What would Clark Griswold do?’”
I think that’s a point worth elaborating on.
There is a lot of behavior of the fictional character, first introduced in the 1983 movie National Lampoon’s Vacation, that I do not wish to replicate.
However, he does possess a quality I very much admire. It’s the fact that, with pride as a husband and father, he ultimately remains optimistic and adventurous on family vacations.
Yeah, that’s not necessarily me right now… but I’m working on it.
I’ve said it before, it’s hard for me to not be in control. It’s how I’m wired.
But on a family vacation, so little is in my control, especially when it comes to your sleeping arrangements. And if you don’t sleep well, I don’t sleep well. Then we’re both really grouchy the next day!
This may sound “out there,” but I have recently started practicing the art of meditation. It’s actually been very helpful to me.
I’ve learned to focus on what I can control versus what I can’t.
Turns out, my attitude and my perception of reality are what I can control the most.
And now, I’m applying my meditation principles in everyday life; not just on family vacations.
I find a quiet moment and place at some point each day and “focus on nothing,” clearing my head of un-dealt with concerns.
In the process, I realize so much of what I let bother me is actually rooted in fear. It’s ultimately fear that I won’t get to relax and have a peace of mind. It’s fear that I won’t get my way or be happy… or get a break.
But if I accept that a family vacation is not a true vacation, but instead, a concentrated effort to spend time with family without the distraction of work and school, then it’s easier for me to have the right mindset.
It’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s not about me.
Honestly, this mantra has efficiently helped my attitude as a parent.
I also try to remember this quote attributed to Jim Henson:
“The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them. They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
This reminds me of an article I read recently about Shawn Achor, known as “Dolphin Dad,” who promotes the idea that kids learn to focus and react the way their parents teach them; including the frequency of laughter and smiling that takes place in a household, as modeled by the parents.
He believes the attributes of successful parenting are demonstrated in dolphins; because they are playful, social, and intelligent. In essence, happier parents make happier kids.
For me, at least, I can’t be happy, especially on a family vacation, if I’m focused on what will make me happy.
I have to think the opposite: What will make everyone else happy? What will it take to lose my ego and therefore lose what limits me? How can I sacrifice to make this trip memorable for everyone, instead of one we will all later wish we could forget?
Plus, I have to remind myself of the words of Clark Griswold: “This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun.”
We’ll be taking a mini family vacation in October. I think I’m actually ready for the challenge now…
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