Thursday, June 1, 2017

Vegas "Vacation"

Maddie attended the Trampoline and Tumbling Regional Championships over Mother's Day weekend. It's as if the Gymnastics Association Powers That Be decided to have a little "fun" with parents. Hmmm...where can we hold a western regional event that will make parents work their hardest and put them on the spot more often than anywhere else...?

Here's a conversation that took place just before we boarded the plane headed for Vegas. The kids were playing 20 questions.

[14-year-old] James: Does the item start with an "S"?

[10-year-old] Maddie: Yes.

James: Does the second letter start with an "I"?


James: What? What's so funny?

My silent reflection: Ahhh...this is going to be fun little family get-away; I'm so glad we have the opportunity to do this!

Here's a conversation that took place moments after we got off the plane:

Maddie: [looking at a larger-than-life, live action screen display] Why is that lady twerking that guitar?

James: Oh, that's not a lady. That's Britney Spears.

My silent reflection: Oh yeah...this is VEGAS. Well...I'm sure our hotel will be a little more "family friendly", since they booked the meet to take place right there at our resort.

The moment we walked into our hotel:

Maddie: Mommy, why is "sexy" spelled with TWO x's in all of these signs?

Me: would appear gymnastics isn't the only entertainment here this weekend. Of course.

Me: I guess the extra "x" means it's extra sexy.

James: Mom, I'll try to distract Maddie. Just hurry up and get the key so we can get her to the room.

Me: Huh...who would have guessed James would jump right into the role of Protective Big Brother?

Two hours later, when Daniel and James returned to the room after taking a walk around the resort so Maddie could get right to sleep:

Daniel: So we looked around for the convention center, like you asked, so we'll know where to take Maddie in the morning. We found it, but we also found ourselves in a hallway where a bunch of girls were gathered, apparently waiting to go on stage for the show. Suddenly we were surrounded by a sea of tassels, pasties, and g-strings. James will dream well tonight!

The next day we had to walk through a casino in order to get to the gymnastics meet from our room. About the 8th time we walked through:

Maddie: [sounding disgusted] Why do so many people smoke here? And gamble? I don't even understand gambling. Why would you want to just waste all your money?!

Me: I don't know, kiddo. Smoking, drinking, and gambling are all things you have to be at least 21-years-old to do. I think they made that rule because if you're that old and you STILL want to do those things, then go for it...but they're stupid things to do, and we don't want our kids doing stupid stuff.

After Maddie was done competing (she did GREAT; so proud!!!), we had tickets for the Cirque Du Soleil show, Mystére, but we stopped off at Señior Frog's for dinner, while we waited for the show to begin. It was a fun meal that included watching an entire wedding party pass our table (prompting a conversation about the prevalence of Vegas weddings and how they often "differ" from traditional weddings) and a guy getting alcohol poured down his gullet to the music of an ear-splitting whistle and the ruckus cheers of all of his buddies, in apparent celebration of his birthday (prompting the question from Maddie, of course, "Why are they doing that to that guy?!").

The festive meal also included elaborate balloon animal hats. I passed on getting a hat for myself (prompting the question from James, "Mom, why aren't you any fun?").

After the meal, James and I waited outside the restaurant while Daniel took Maddie back in to retrieve something she forgot. James noticed an advertisement sign.

James: Ugh...look at this, Mom. 'Ladies Night every Wednesday' and 'Bikini Contest every Thursday'. I mean...can you believe it?

I was skeptical about his disgusted tone.

Me: wouldn't want to go to the bikini contest?

James: Pffff...well...I mean...I wouldn't say NO!

Minutes later we found our seats for the show. I took a deep breath, looking forward to at least an hour or two of entertainment that would be blissfully free of awkward questions.

First character on the stage: You will see smoke on the stage. That's okay - for US, here on the stage - not for YOU! For you, there is no texting...NO SEXTING! Now, enjoy the show!!!

Maddie: What's sexting?

Me: [Groan]

The next day [Mother's Day] we took a bus tour to the western rim of the Grand Canyon, with a stop at the Hoover Dam.

Dam Dab

On the bus, on the way to the Grand Canyon:

James: You're the best, Mom!

Maddie: Yeah, the best mom, EVER!

Me: I don't know, guys. Just last night we established that I'm no fun.

James: Oh,'

Daniel: [laughing] Did you hurt yourself there, buddy, trying to choke that out?

The Grand Canyon was amazing. The skywalk was breathtaking. Learning about the Hualapai Tribe was fascinating. We had a wonderful time. It was an even more educational trip than I anticipated, too.

Me: Well, guys, is the Grand Canyon like you imagined it would be?

James: Pretty much, but it's still cool.

Maddie: No. It's COMPLETELY different. But, yeah; it's really cool.

Me: What did you think it would be like?

Maddie: Oh, I thought it was a water park.

The next morning we were in a cab on our way back to the airport. It was 5:30 AM.

Me: [to the driver] So is this the beginning of your shift or the end?

Driver: The beginning; I just started my day.

...Early morning, "pre-coffee" silence...

Maddie: [yelling from the back seat, with a standard-issue, complimentary entertainment brochure in her hand] So...what's so special about an ASIAN massage? I don't get it. What makes an ASIAN massage any better than a REGULAR massage? This one says, "...girls taking care of all your needs..." here it says, "happy experience, throughout"...



James: [grabbing a brochure for himself]



  1. I read this, thinking "glad it wasn't me". You handled these challenges really well. As for those meet organizers - what were they thinking? Are they so numb to our oversexualized world that they just never questioned the meet location? The Unknown Journey Ahead

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and for your supportive words! My guess is the gymnastics folks were thinking with their checkbooks. Something tells me there are likely few (or no) cities that can offer a [large enough] resort with an attached convention center at the bargain price Vegas can offer it for. They MUST be happy with the set-up, because it's my understanding they're contracted to hold the regional championships for the next 2 or 3 years. I suppose the bright side is that if you're a parent who has been procrastinating on starting up the "sex talks", this kinda kicks your butt into gear. I didn't mind the was just the rapid-fire nature in which they were hurled at me that wore me down! ;) Thanks again, take care, and enjoy the rest of your week! :) ~Stephanie

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  3. You fielded questions like a pro! Way to go momma :) Not sure why the organizers did not give more thought to the venue, but it seems like you were AOK.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and for the kind words! I guess I don't hold anything against the gymnastics association. There is no "protecting" the kids of this generation from "uncomfortable subjects". Open, honest, and FREQUENT communication is key in helping them to make wise choices. Vegas forces you to think quickly on your feet, but it sure is an easy way to naturally work those subject matters into conversations (vs. awkwardly sitting kids down on the couch for "The Talk"). Want to find a way to discuss the dangers of smoking and gambling? There's no better way to demonstrate those dangers than when you can see evidence of it, right in front of your face. Want to talk about objectification of women? Well, let's count how many billboards have scantily clad women around the city vs. how many feature scantily clad men. The conversations aren't always in your comfort zone, but I guess most of the most important things in life aren't in our comfort zones. :) Thanks again, take care, and have yourself a wonderful weekend! :) ~Stephanie

  4. I loved your answer to her question, that you have to be 21 and we don't want our kids doing stupid things (not quite like you wrote) great answer, good article! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I loved your answer to her question, that you have to be 21 and we don't want our kids doing stupid things (not quite like you wrote) great answer, good article! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post; I'm glad you enjoyed it! Take care and have yourself a wonderful weekend! :) ~Stephanie

  6. What a fun-sounding trip. I'd like to have heard the "What did you see in Las Vegas?" conversations between the kids and their friends away from parents. Hee hee. Still, I like that setting for the meet. Youngsters get glimpses of the wild world while safely with their parents, and getting the very strong message that SEXXY might be splayed everywhere, but the smart people walk past or through all that to see the real prizes: Cirque, the canyon, the dam. It doesn't have to be about ages like 21; it shows them discerning taste always wins out. I like "Maddie's inquisitive nature and unvarnished commentary. "James" shines like a good brother. The dad in this scenario (and in the pix) seems like he could have fun anywhere as long as he has his crew with him. Thanks for the fun essay!

    1. Thanks, Stephen! I agree...for the most part. While I'm reasonably confident the kids walked away from the trip with fond memories of Cirque, the dam and the canyon, something tells me the sight-seeing James PROBABLY reminisces about most is his walk through the Gauntlet of Pasties and G-Strings. Discerning taste has its place, but I'm not 100% certain it ALWAYS wins out over the wild side. Who am I to begrudge him those fond memories, though? I agree with you that it isn't a bad venue. Awkward, uncomfortable conversations with your kids are just a reality of parenthood. Why not get a bunch of them out of the way all at once...and have fun and lots of laughs while you're at it? :)

  7. Yep! Sure, James got his interest piqued, but he didn't need Vegas to do that. It's the job of a teen boy to connect the dots between feelings and reality, and in that context reality was being with loving parents and a supportive family. Vegas might stir some feelings, but you were modeling the path from basic desires to maturity and values for what matters most. I've never felt like kids should be protected from exposure to the world; let 'em see what's out there so they can learn to find the beauty amid myriad distractions. James will no doubt brag about his hallway adventure to his friends, but Mom snapping a shot of him dabbing with Dad and Sis on a canyon wall reinforces what he really wants out of life. That's a good trip! Thanks for such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post.