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Dan Zevin

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Are You Suffering From Post Vacation Re-Entry Syndrome?

Posted: 03/ 5/2012 4:09 pm

For parents of school-aged spawn throughout the land, this will be the second week of reality following mid-winter recess. We recessed in Florida. At least that's where I think we recessed. As any vacation-going individual knows, once you've been home for two weeks, you've forgotten that you ever left. Your rosy vacation glow gets blotchy and scaly. And you know that laid-back, spread-the-good-energy-all-around vacation voice you had in the back of your head two weeks ago? That soothing voice that said, "Dan, you should really try taking an introductory yoga class at that place around the block when you get home?" (Well, your vacation voice probably didn't call you Dan. That would be a coincidence though). Once you hit the two-week point of the re-entry process, that honey-toned vacation voice starts saying stuff like, "When did all this crap pile up like this?!" And, "Why is everyone in my office acting so swamped and crazy?!" And, "Can someone please explain to me how this inflatable toy dolphin got into the playroom?!"

In an effort to get our vacation groove back, I gathered the fam together last night and we did something to remind us all that, yes, we did in fact go to Florida on vacation two weeks ago. We watched the video of us at the dolphin place. Where we swam with dolphins. No shit. They came right up to us, politely extended a friendly fin, and the next thing we knew, we were holding on for a high speed ride through their dolphiny waters. It was like Wave Runners, except dolphins.

And that's not all we did with these dolphins. When we held our arms out in a circle like the dolphin lady taught us, the dolphins swam into them so we could give them a hug. Or, more accurately, a head-hug. The heads on these things are huge. I know this for a fact because I hugged one of these dolphin heads during mid-winter recess in Florida, where I was on vacation with my family two weeks ago. At least it looked like my family on the video last night. Now I'm starting to wonder if it was really us. See what I'm talking about? Post Vacation Re-Entry Syndrome. That was my PVRS talking right there.

It wasn't my idea to swim with the dolphins on the mid-winter break that we absolutely spent in Florida two weeks ago. It was my wife's. When it comes to family vacations, Megan has an annoying tendency to think about what will be fun for the kids (swimming with the dolphins) instead of what will be fun for the father (room service). No disrespect to the dolphins. I have no problem with the dolphins. Some of my best friends are dolphins. You're talking to a guy who actually makes his kids watch old school Flipper episodes on Hulu because it was my favorite show when I was their age. I also make them watch The Partridge Family on Boomerang Channel. Now stop making me talk about topics I should be saving for another blog. My point is that I like dolphins. But I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Megan on vacation two weeks ago: "I also like monkeys, but that doesn't mean I want to climb into their cage at the Bronx Zoo and swing around the branches with them."

Megan was right, as it turned out (for the past 20 years). Dolphins are the single most fun vacation activity ever invented. And our children liked them, too. But enough about them. Come on, little kids get to experience thrilling "firsts" every day of their lives. Riding a bike, skiing down the bunny slope, eating at Benihana of Tokyo, the list goes on. What the hell do they need vacations for? As far as I'm concerned, the number one selling point of being a kid is you get to do something brand new every day of your life. And the number one selling point of being a parent is you get to help your kids learn how to do all this new stuff, especially at Benihana of Tokyo. The number two selling point, at least for me, is re-living all this new stuff through their eyes.

When we went swimming with the dolphins two weeks ago (which we did in fact do), there was nothing my wife and I could teach them about it, and there was nothing we were re-living through their eyes. As I watched our retrospective footage last night, I suddenly realized that it was probably the first fun thing we've ever done as a family that was as new to us as it was to them. It was a family first.

But believe me, it's not going to be a family last. Next year at this time, you will very likely find this family of Zevins skiing with the dolphins, or perhaps going to Disney -- and/or Legoland with the dolphins, or -- who knows? -- maybe even inviting the dolphins to come visit our house for a change. We'll fold down the back row of seats so they can fit their giant heads into the minivan, and we'll road-trip with the dolphins into the city, maybe take them to see a Broadway show and have dinner. The only trick will be finding a restaurant that the dolphins and the kids can agree on. Legal Seafoods would probably work.

Or maybe we'll just go back to Florida again. Because, thanks to the dolphins, that vacation was unforgettable. Even two weeks into my PVRS.

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