There are no books, rules or how to lists when cancelling summer vacation . There are no research studies on the long term effects, how likely your child(ren) will end up in therapy over the disappointment, or how much you will probably regret the decision in December.

(This is part of a series of posts counting down my son going to college. To see the initial, pitiful post – click here)

But I cancelled it anyway.

Over the past 9 months, I’ve traveled back home multiple times to say goodbye to my 96-year- old sparkly grandmother.

A month ago, I traveled to a state we used to live in to spend time with dear friends who filled my deficit for hugs, late night chats, Nutella lattes, and old bookstores.

Last week I returned from saying a final goodbye to my grandmother. My son returned from his annual surf camp week in California and brought a friend with him for a week.

Four days after the friend flew home, we were supposed to go on vacation.

What was I thinking in booking the trip?

I wasn’t thinking my grandmother would pass. I wasn’t thinking how tired we would both be.

I was thinking of time hanging out with Jordan, without his friends, and just surfing, and finding cool places to eat out, and watching horses run free. I wanted him above all to learn what it is to find his zone of quiet, to connect to nature, and to experience a few days without screens.

Hey, at least I had reasons. Terrific reasons. Just not reasons that trumped exhaustion.

What we’re doing instead….

I made the decision without consulting him. I was toast. He not only understood that our vacation was off,  but grateful.

He was also exhausted.

He wanted time home (and in so doing, accomplish one of my goals of “finding his zone of quiet”).

He wanted to be in his room. Because he traveled quite a bit as well, he wanted to be back “home”. He wanted to hang out with his friends.

He wanted to drive. And go to the mall. And mow the lawn (hey, I pay well).

But I had one small dilemma that we needed to address: I wanted to have fun with him.

Fun is one enduring point of connection. So I made my case as honestly, and as non-pathetically as possible.  “We are not going on vacation, but somehow I want to have fun with you. I know, I know. There are at least zero things we both enjoy, but can’t we find something??”

“I want to stay local.”

“Done. What else?”

“How about finding cool food places we never go?”


So we did.

One of them was an authentic Asian restaurant where he honed food photography skills… and decided the decor was so awesome, he said one day he wants his bedroom in Asian contemporary.

Mothers Day 2014

Summer Vacation 2014

We’ve also been to an upscale chocolate and coffee shop, sampling 68% Peruvian chocolates, grapefruit, ginger, and basil chocolates, and saffron chocolates. When we left, he said, “This is totally a place to bring a girl.” Dear future girlfriend – you so owe me.

And a few nights ago at 9:00pm we made a doughnut-hole run.

He’s been sleeping, helping me around the house with laundry, and waiting for his friends to return from their vacations.

When I think back to all the reasons I wanted a vacation, almost all of them them were ticked off within 3 days:  a low key week,  time without his friends, time without screens, time to have fun, finding cool places to eat out. We’ve been minimally doing a few chores to dig out of all the travel. Energy is returning, and there’s a calm in the house instead of the frenetic packing and unpacking from the previous weeks.

But possibly the best unplanned perk to cancelling our vacation – I forgot the post office held the mail so I haven’t had to deal with bills this whole entire week.

This just may be the best cancelled summer vacation I’ve ever called off.