So, how do you get a humungous big old family ready for a vacation?
First you hire security: your familia big brother with anger issues and 200+ pounds of pure muscle is asked to stay at your house, manage your viscious guard dog and keep a sharp eye out for anything unusual. You alert your state of the art security company to be, um, on alert.
Second, you make endless runs to Target and Walmart for all the last minute forgottens: snacks and plane trinkets and coloring books and shoes and underwear. Yes, we need new underwear to travel it seems, because the old ones just won’t do. Go figure. It’s a “big family mystery”, but it’s real. I’ve got the Hanes action figure boxer receipts to prove it.
Third, you make sure that mom has a minor rampage of overwhelmed tearing through the house the day before, trying to remember everything that needs to packed, prepped, labeled, and stowed. Laundry churns without a break for a few days running, in order to pack what few clean socks and underwear we do have.
Fourth you direct all smalls to deposit all bags and backpacks to foyer, for counting and for corralling, so that the exit tomorrow is smooth and without that exciting last minute, “Wait, I can’t find my________!”
Fifth, you buddy up. You plan out seating arrangements on the plane in advance. It’s as serious an undertaking as planning a State Dinner. Just as certain countries and their ambassadors might need to be seated far apart in order to quell tension; the seating of siblings on a plane must too be undertaken with great care and concern for underlying tension and tendencies to snarl and/or wail. Hard ones are paired with easy, bigs with littles and Mom and Dad are separated for maximum parental real estate coverage. The seating arrangements on the plane is a big
crapshoot gamble as well; if we are on our game, we will get different boarding groups and have two go ahead to score seats as the rest of the tribe shuffles aboard. Worst comes to worst, we pull out the trump card. I hold the one with the runny nose (there is always one with a runny nose) as Dad leans in and asks a passenger or two if they wouldn’t mind moving so we could sit together…though if not, we think this one could probably be ok on his own next the passenger.
Lastly, you make arrangements for troop movements to airports, in multiple cars. That’s right. When you are a large family, you can’t get to the airport in one vehicle. NOPE, it’s gotta be a minimum of two, sometimes three, depending upon the suitcase situation and the length of trip and the possible addition of friends and/or nephews. Happily, one of the upsides of the ridiculous and obscene airport luggage restrictions is that it cuts our vehicular caravan down to a more reasonable two, most of the time nowadays. You have to beg godchildren and best friend to drive you to the airport and return the large vehicles back to the house, because big angry brother and his family will be needing them as well.
And, if all goes well, you all make it onto the plane, on time, and take off without tears or fuming and a minimum of rolling eyes. It’s rare, but it can happen. If you hit the jackpot, two or three kids will fall asleep (and not just the teens). Yes, we are that family. The one that gets the goggle eyed looks and stares, that is asked if we are a school group, and sometimes even gets actual sneers. We have learned to smile and look those folks directly in the eye. We are as polite as we can be, we deplane last, we actually have some skilled little travelers. But, man, we look alarming when we roll through the terminal and onto that plane. And, until we get there and hit the beach, it’s go mode, baby. That means, the tribe is on the move.