What remains to be seen will be revealed

| September 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

What happens when you put two parents, three kids, one overactive puppy and several marauding mice in a remote cabin in Maine, with no Internet, no phone service and no cable television during the last week of summer vacation?

The answer to that question depends on who you ask.

Despite the fact that he is an arrogantly opinionated college kid who loves nothing more than debating the palatability of dorm food or the effect of computerization on the global economy with his roommates, our 20-year-old son Hayden would give the same response he has given to our parental questions for the last five years: “Good.”



Ask Anna, our 17-year-old, who relentlessly milks her victimhood as the middle child, and she would claim that our end-of-summer vacation in Maine was like teetering on the precipice of hell.

Our 15-year-old Lilly would gladly answer the question with a sincere response based on her genuine observations and honest opinions, but not until she is done responding to the 537 texts and social media posts that she missed while we were off the grid.

Ask our 7-month-old yellow Labrador retriever Moby, and in dog language, he would communicate, “I loved it! I love you! I love my family! I love the cabin, the trees, the birds, the bugs, the sticks, the lake, the canoe, the lodge, the fire pit, the dirt …”

Moby would blather on and on ad nauseam, until someone throws a ball or shakes the dog food bag to distract him.

Ask my husband while we are stuck in two hours of Boston traffic on our way home, and he would snap impatiently at the kids to knock off the racket, complain that his sciatica is killing him, and shout in a “hangry” rage, “For the love of God could someone please get me a flipping snack from the cooler before I starve to death here!”

However, if you ask my otherwise pragmatic, rational, career Navy husband after we are back in our base house on Naval Station Newport with the car unpacked and three pizza slices in his stomach, he would offer a simple answer, uncluttered with over-analysis and untainted with emotion (although possibly intended to shut me up), “It was a perfect vacation, dear.”

Different perspective

But what about my opinion? Was our family’s week in the woods a success? Did we accomplish what we set out to do?

Did we pluck ourselves from the suffocating tidal wave of modern technology and rapidly changing cultural norms long enough to breathe in the fortifying strength of familial bonds and renew our uniquely human ties with the natural world?

Heck if I know.

I guess, I have to accept that it may take years before hindsight will bring the answers to all my parenting questions into focus. In the meantime, I’ll stop trying to draw conclusions and concentrate on making good memories.

Like everyone eating a late breakfast of hot, buttered pancakes with peach slices, pecans and Maine maple syrup. Like teaching Moby to swim. Like seeing my computer scientist son paddle around in a kayak. Like hiking Acadia trails in the rain. Like taking the kids out in a canoe to watch the sun go down over the lake.

Like hearing our girls giggling up in the cabin loft after carving “I have lice” into the ceiling over their bunks. Like sipping a local pale ale in an Adirondack chair around a roaring fire. Like beating my husband at Othello.

Like being so bored on the fourth night in the cabin that, after watching our two-hour and 30-minute “Dog Day Afternoon” DVD, we watched it all over again with the director’s commentary.

(Currently stationed in Newport, Rhode Island, Molinari is a 21-year military spouse and mother of three, whose award-winning columns appear in military and civilian newspapers nationwide, and on her blog, themeatandpotatoesoflife.com. Follow Molinari on Facebook and @MolinariWrites.)


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