By: John Jericiau
Three more days to go until the end of our Costa Rican vacation, and I’m ready to go home. Don’t get me wrong – I’m enjoying everything about this vacation. We are at an all-inclusive resort, and we haven’t excluded anything. We enjoy every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, topped off with a dessert or two. We are having fruity drinks and smoothie drinks and alcoholic drinks. The boys sip on pineapple-mango concoctions throughout the day as if they won the lottery, in between or during their kid’s club activities at the beach or the pool or the art room or wherever they want. We’ve watched wonderful live music and dance performances on stage. We’ve done massage on the beach and reflexology at the spa, daily workouts at the gym, and some napping at poolside. We’ve done long ocean swims and walks along the shore. We’ve ramped up our man-on-man time to a frequency not seen since 2004 B.K. (Before Kids.) We’ve stayed up late watching good old movies on TV (albeit with English subtitles), and have slept in until the boys wake us up at the crack of 10. We’ve been able to lounge on our hotel room patio and talk leisurely together about our goals for the next five years, our landscape plans for our back yard, and our deep inner thoughts about John Travolta. We’ve bonded as a family, and have enjoyed every minute of it.
It would be unbearable to leave all of this behind if not for the fact that things are so great at home. We are walking distance to one of the most iconic beaches on the planet. We can walk to a beautiful municipal pool. Or to an awesome outdoor promenade. Or a library. Or the market. Or a bowling alley.
The weather is incredible. It’s warm but not hot. We don’t have tornadoes, hurricanes, or ice or snow. We have a bike path down at the beach that is great for running. We live across the street from a kid’s park and a dog park. We have a very roomy backyard (roomy by beach community standards anyway).
The boys’ fantastic schools are walking distance from our house. We have lots and lots of relatives close by (husband’s side of the family), and even more friends and playmates. Our town has 20 movie theaters in or around it, and our minivan at last count has 17 cup holders and a three-inch layer of beloved toys on its floor. The boys have their karate class, and their swim lessons, and their YMCA.
We’re at T minus 19 weeks (probably less) until our much anticipated Baby #3 is born, and we’re all (especially the boys!) getting more and more excited about its arrival. The boys also want a dog, and a cat, and a garden, because “we big 4- and 5-year-old boys now and can be do more and we promise to help with the baby boy no I want a girl and feed it and wipe it I promise Daddy and Papa okay please I’ll be good okay please?”
Two weeks is plenty for a vacation, and we’ve got so much fun to look forward to. I can picture myself at home unpacking these suitcases we’ve been living out of and finally machine washing these clothes we’ve been recycling. I can’t wait to stock the refrigerator and wash the car and make the beds. Bring on the sweeping and the repairing and the play date planning and the organizing.
Because there’s no place like home.
By: John Jericiau
We’re halfway through our vacation in Costa Rica and we have arrived at our final destination: The Westin Golf Resort & Spa in Playa Conchal. The two most important words in that name for me are Spa, because that means some massage or facial treatment, and Playa, because that means the beach. Conchal is a nice touch too, since that signifies that the beach is made up of millions upon millions of tiny sun-bleached seashells. Concha means shell in Spanish. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your personal taste, concha is also slang for vagina.
This place should really have a name that would make any parent salivate. Maybe like The Westin Kid’s Club Resort & Spa. We practically made a beeline to check out the kid’s club after first tossing our luggage into our hotel suite. Open from 9am to 5pm, the Westin’s Kid’s Club has all sorts of planned activities such as face painting, beach games, tennis, and did I mention that it’s open from 9am all the way to 5pm? I think our boys could see a certain look in our eyes as we toured the place, because they nervously said “Are you really going to leave us here all day?”
As a family we’ve really bonded in the last week, but Daddy and Papa really want to make sure they recharge before heading back to face a long summer in … um… Santa Monica Beach. So we will sporadically make use of the kid’s club, since it’s included in the price.
We checked out the fitness center, and were trapped inside for about a half hour while a monster of a rainstorm dumped more rain than we’d see in a year at home. We looked at a few of the restaurants on site, and chose to return to a buffet joint for dinner because it had some kind of entertainment as well. All meals and shows are included in the price.
The food was what you’d expect: quantity over quality, appearance over taste. Our youngest son enjoyed his usual white rice and pasta with butter, while our oldest son enjoyed everything else. My husband and I decided to order Piña Coladas, because a) we were thirsty, b) it seemed like a drink you’d order at an exotic resort, and c) it was included in the price. We clinked our glasses to ring in the week of fun and Zen. As we looked around the vast dining room I couldn’t help but feel that we were sticking out. My gaydar was registering zero, but no matter. Maybe “all-inclusive” resort didn’t mean what I thought it meant, but we were going to have a great week of family fun and that was that.
After finishing our five helpings of dinner we made our way over to the entertainment stage in the dining hall to check out the show. There were already a dozen or so kids about our sons’ ages or older lined up on stage, waiting to answer a few questions from the voluptuous Costa Rican emcee – questions like “What’s your name?”, “How old are you?”, and “Where are you from?” With no prompting from us, and much to our surprise, our boys made their way up on stage holding each other’s hand and joined the end of the line. They stood in line patiently as the emcee interviewed each kid in succession. Name, age, hometown. Name, age, hometown. Name, age, hometown. Soon enough our youngest son was on the microphone answering each question succinctly, earning a few chuckles and awws along the way. Our oldest son was last in line, and quite possibly the only African-American in the venue, he wore a smile that lit up the room. He told everybody his name loudly and clearly, and then told the crowd he was five years old. I breathed with a sigh of relief after he shared his hometown with everyone, expecting that he might get some stage fright as he sometimes does. But wait! The observant emcee noted the connection between our two boys as she asked “Oh, same as this blond guy over here? Is this your friend?”
“No, that’s my brother!” he exclaimed.
You could see the eyes of the crowd playing ping pong as they moved from one son to the other and then back again, trying to figure out how and if this could be the truth. The emcee on the other hand, being the consummate professional, chuckled at my son and yelled to the hushed crowd “Oh reeeeeeally? Why don’t we ask Mom about that? Where are you, Mom? Where’s your Mom?”
Dozens of eyes scanned the room as necks craned and midsections twisted, all searching for the wanted mom. My son could have said anything at this point: “I’m adopted” or “I don’t have a Mom” or “I have two fathers.” Instead, my son took the least scintillating route by laughing “NO, my daddy is here!” All eyes focused on the guy (me) waving back to my son, and things quickly calmed down. We’re not sure why our son didn’t say that Daddy and Papa were there, but it does seem like most kids his age don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they are different.
On the walk back to the hotel room after the event, my husband tried several times to get our son to talk about what happened up on stage, but he wouldn’t bite. He acted like it made no difference to him. We do try periodically to talk about adoption as well as “the missing mom” with him, and we know that down the road it might get a little rough for him. But that’s okay – it’s included in the price.