One of the great things about having a job that involves travel is that it sometimes lets you visit with friends and family that are in the area. I was able to enjoy this past weekend with my daughter in Massachusetts. Having children of different ages means different activities please them in different ways. My daughter’s growing interest in history means that I can take her to historic sites, and her interest in Greek mythology led to us planning a trip to Athens during her Spring Break in 2018.

Someday, I’m sure my sons will share similar interests. For now, it’s all Lego sets and YouTube videos about… of all things, kids building Lego sets! My middle son could not be more vocal about his displeasure at visiting historical sites. While I admire his candor, he can be a total killjoy. I’m sure he will grow out of it, but I’m not sure if he will in the next 8 months.

It’s one thing if he has a bad mood and we have to leave a museum an hour earlier than planned, but what if we’re on a vacation that we have planned for months? A vacation for which we traveled halfway around the world! Such an attitude could lead to losing out on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for sightseeing! Suddenly the potential impact and inflicted loss become significantly higher. But could such an issue arise only from a poor attitude?

There’s a certain challenge, I think a joyful challenge, that comes with being a single parent. The less you see your children, the more meaningful you must make your time together. Needless to say, I’m not much of a “let’s watch TV in the hotel all day” kind of guy. In the 48 hours I spent with my daughter, we built an aggressive itinerary. Breakfast on Cape Cod, visit Plymouth Rock, take a harbor cruise, visit the Salem Dungeon and Salem Witch House, visit the Bunker Hill Monument, and stopping off to see the USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young in Boston Harbor. Don’t forget the hours of driving between locations too! I think at some point we ate and slept, but yikes am I tired.

Did this aggressive schedule, with very little slack, introduce risk into our plans? What happens when someone gets tired, cranky, or just isn’t having a good time? Several times throughout the course of the weekend, I thought to myself how there would be no way that we could have done this with the boys. Especially Bunker Hill.

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The last time I was in Boston, the Bunker Hill Monument was closed. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t go up to the top. This time, I was excited at the prospect – but was genuinely concerned about whether or not my 10-year old daughter would be able to make it all the way up. To offer some context, the interior of the monument has a stone spiral staircase that has 294 steps taking you to the top of the 221′ foot structure – basically a twenty story building. To offer further context, my daughter has the kind of grit that business schools wish they could teach. Watching other people turn around on the stairs simply motivates her to go on.

The whole way up, all I could keep thinking to myself is how the boys could never do this. Had they come, it probably would have ruined the day! Children under 14 need to be accompanied by an adult, and I could vividly imagine my middle boy refusing to even look inside the Monument, refusing to even consider going up the stairs. He would, in effect, stop any of us from reaching the top!

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We reached the top without much of an issue. I did notice that on our way down from this 20-story flight of stairs that my legs were a little wobbly. It seemed that every time my foot reached for a lower step it shook a little like jello until I set it down again. It couldn’t possibly be much of an issue though, I mean heck, I’m in the prime of my life! Excellent shape! I jog several times a week, I eat great, and….apparently, I could use some time on a stair climber.

The next morning I had a terrible pain in my back, and my thighs…oh, my thighs. I hadn’t even considered that my physical condition wasn’t sufficient for such activities. Truly an unknown-unknown! But worst of all, the guilt.  Driving back from Massachusetts, I couldn’t help but think about how my sore back and legs could just as easily ruin well-constructed plans on a vacation as a truculent second-grader. Yet for some reason, the only threats to a good vacation that I was willing to entertain involved a child’s, but not my own, weaknesses.

This has me rethinking various aspects of our trip to Athens. Perhaps I should build more slack between activities to prevent over exertion, and perhaps I should spend more time on a stair climber, and perhaps I shouldn’t worry so much about a second-grader acting his age. The risk exposure is much higher on such a trip, but I can always get an international data plan so he can watch YouTube while we’re at the Acropolis.


Karl Cheney
kcheney@castlebarsolutions.com
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