Six months ago we booked a ski trip for spring break. For six months we could hardly contain our excitement. The plan was to put the kids in school on Friday and then take them out early and whisk them away to Sweden where we have relatives and friends waiting for us. Then I got sick with the flu, but had a week and a half to rest up and wasn’t concerned about my ability to get better. We did everything we possibly could, my husband did the cooking and cleaning and I was separated from the kids, basically quarantined in an effort to minimize exposure. There was only one flaw in my plan and that flaw was called “school.” Unbeknownst to me a little boy in Max’s class had the flu. Max said it sounded like he had laryngitis and this little boy told everyone he was really sick. Did I mention he was at school?
Four days before we were leaving for our spring break trip, Max came down with a 103 degree fever. As I type this he is fever free, it is the Friday of our departure and I spend the entire night up with a coughing and miserable child. Spring break canceled. Yesterday when I picked my healthy ten year old up from the bus stop I broke the news to him. We would have to cancel our vacation. His big blue eyes stared at me, the disappointment clearly visible on his face. As I spoke to him about the risk of further infection for myself and Max, the risk of bringing this flu to others on the plane and our family in Sweden, Ryan stared at me and didn’t say a word. I told him that even though he and Dad were healthy (we considered letting only the two of them head out), there was a chance that he could get sick on the plane and that they would still carry germs with them. Ryan tends to be asthmatic during croup and certain upper respiratory colds. I couldn’t bear to have him so far away from me and in possible distress. It was a risk I wasn’t willing to take.
Then with one sentence my son Ryan made everything all better. “Mom, even though I want to scream and cry I can’t because you are the best mom in the world for making this hard decision.” It was at that moment that I realized I was doing my job. I might have even teared up in front of my son because I was so affected by how he handled his disappointment. Ryan then turned his disappointment into a positive situation and told me he was going to prank his friends who were home for spring break and make lots of fun plans with them. I was ordered NOT to tell the other parents so he could surprise them on Monday. Operation plan B in full effect!
My first instinct after seeing how well my kids handled the news was to make alternate, fun, off-the-hook plans when everyone was better. Visions of a short trip to Williamsburg, an amusement park, picnics, and campouts came rushing into my head. Then I realized that by making these plans, or even setting my kids up to believe we had alternative plans, diminished the lesson they were learning. Life is full of disappointment, but what defines us is our ability to handle those moments with grace and strength. Being healthy, being together and having a break from school surrounded by our friends is a gift in itself.
“The more we shelter children from every disappointment, the more devastating future disappointments will be.” Fred G. Gosman
My plans for spring break will be about moments of love. I will cuddle my coughing 7 year old and I will nurse him back to health. I will support my 10 year old with plans of his own making and we will gather as a family and be thankful for all that God has given us. Have a wonderful and safe spring break!