Jill and Lenny had made it a very pleasant habit to take their grown children on vacation with them. First they had a condo at the beach. Once they sold that, they rented at interesting, far-away places--one or two condos so everyone could come together and relax as one big, happy family.
They're not so keen on that scenario anymore. They still love the idea of a family vacation but finds it's increasingly difficult to take both families at the same time. Her son's children are 10 years older than her daughter's--with more sophisticated tastes. Her son has lived abroad with his family, sends his children to an international school where they are keeping up their multi-language skills. He has more money to spend than his sister and is willing to spend it on introducing his children to the varieties of food and experiences the world holds. No time like vacation to introduce and experiment.
The daughter's children--twins--are in preschool. Her outlook is more home-grown and her pocketbook more limited.Going out to a restaurant to try unusual food is a trial--the kids are too young to enjoy it; it's a pain make them sit still for so long--it's much easier (and cheaper) to eat hamburgers or pizza at the condo.
"Resentments arise," the parents of these grown children say. "Our son and son-in-law aren't kindred spirits. They have a civil relationship but they don't have too much to say to each other. Our daughter and daughter-in-law don't have that much in common. Everyone loves each other--the big kids love the twins but they have their limits on how long they want to play with them. I get tense when we're away together. Sibling rivalry rears it head--even at this age."
Jill and Lenny are now thinking that they don't want to have everyone together for so long a time. Both her son and daughter live in the same city as they do. Sunday dinners at the parent's house is an unspoken ritual. Three hours of togetherness is one thing. Ten days is another.
Welcome to the club. As one friend famously put it about visits from all her grandchildren at once: "I don't do gang bangs anymore." She staggers her daughter's visits to her resort condo. Another friend calls it "serial vacationing." Amounts to the same thing. It's a fine idea to have everyone together--all the grands in a big house at the beach--but the reality is something else. Either the kids and their spouses have little in common or the parenting styles are very different or there's just too much chaos in having so many people under one roof or we just get caught up in the tensions that could erupt into arguments--between grown siblings, grandkids or you and your children. That does not spell vacation. Even if the grown kids say they love it.