07/30/2012 01:07 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2012

Vacation Reality Check

We spent the past eight days on a trip to Hawaii, having adventures that I never would have dreamed of having when I was a kid like hiking in waterfalls, snorkeling along reefs and walking on black sand beaches. It couldn't be further from the road trips my sister and I took as kids in the blue Plymouth Fury with 115,000 miles on it towards a no-name motel. Take a look at my Dadmissions Facebook page for all the proof I couldn't wait to share as I posted pictures of our luau, our drive through the rain forest and our walks in the waves. I'm posting updates and pictures and exceeding my kids' expectations. No question about it! What a dad... Or so I thought. And that's when we needed to call the hotel guy with the special safe cracker to bring my ego right back down to size.

We needed to call the hotel guy with the special safe cracker because after day four on our trip, my phone and my wallet were locked away in the hotel room safe by my 7-year-old. Only this was no accident. Alicia is always telling me she thinks I spend too much time on the phone and online, so she actually hatched a plot to change the safe code and lock up my stuff. I then tried guessing the code so many times that the safe shut down with the hotel assuming I must be trying to rob the place. In this case, I was trying to steal my own phone back from my 7-year-old. When Alicia herself returned to the room, I told her the safe wouldn't work and she thought it was HI-LAR-IOUS. That was until HER code didn't work, either. Then she panicked. She thought she had broken the entire thing and forever locked my stuff inside. She explained to me she had wanted to lock up the phone so I wouldn't use it. She apologized. And then she sheepishly got on the hotel phone to the front desk to explain what had happened. We talked it out and yes, Alicia had learned her lesson at the same time she was teaching me mine. The guy with the special safe cracker showed up and in two minutes, he had clicked a few special buttons and had gotten the safe back open.

I had my wallet back and my phone back and a very guilty feeling in my stomach. Perception is everything. And even though I thought I had been doing a pretty good job of not checking my phone or my email during the trip, the girls apparently disagreed. All the waterfalls, souvenirs and dolphin sightings couldn't erase the perception that I apparently spend too much time on my phone and online. If I'm exceeding my kids' expectations, then why did they feel the need to physically restrain me from my phone? In this case, maybe I earned a "needs improvement." I didn't give up the phone entirely in the past few days of the trip to Hawaii, but I resisted the urge to talk about each palm tree we saw and every treat the girls had to eat. I guess for that, we can all be thankful. In the end, eight days in Maui gave me some new perspective on parenthood. Somewhere along Maui's 50 mile road to Hana, I reconnected with my family again. I'm a dad and I'm a work in progress.