“No, Mom. You can’t have anymore to drink! We’ll never get back to our hotel if we have to keep stopping so many times!”
I turned in dismay to face my disgruntled 13-year-old daughter, who from her regal position in the backseat was protectively guarding our Styrofoam ice chest with her bare feet. Glancing at my husband’s profile for some much-needed support I was presented with one of his half-swallowed grins.
Folding my arms, I prepared to offer my protests in some sort of logical fashion.
“Listen, it’s not my fault, Samantha, that we decided to take a 4 hour car ride with only Gatorade. How was I supposed to know that it would leave me with this urgent need to use the many highway facilities along the way? I’m only human. I can’t be blamed for weakened body parts. After all, Samantha, having you didn’t help much!” I pointed a smirk in her direction. Who is the mom here? I bit back my next retort. Immediately, I felt a small jab in my arm from my well-meaning husband reminding me I was the mom.
This car trip was turning out to be a minor disaster from my point of view. What had started out as a short day trip to the Grand Canyon had turned into one vacation memory I preferred to forgo videotaping. Samantha had never seen the canyon before although both my husband and I had on a prior trip. We felt it was a tourist attraction she shouldn’t miss. We finally arrived after several shortcuts, (i.e. wrong turns) and parked the car by the canyon’s edge.
Our recently proclaimed teen reluctantly pulled off her headphones. The first time I duly noted since the trip began. We sprinted together to the waist high wall.
“Isn’t this magnificent?” I shouted while spreading my arms for my daughter to take in the expansive view. “Didn’t God outdo Himself when He made this?” I turned in anticipation of her coveted response.
“Is this it? Can we go to a gift shop now?” She begged. She was busily trailing her hand along the surface of the stone wall barricade while impatiently shifting her size 9 sneakers.
“Is this it?” I forced out the words but not with my previous exuberance.
“What do you mean is this IT? This is one of the Wonders of the World! This IT is why we flew all the way across the country, crammed ourselves in that tiny vehicle of a rental car and brought you here, so you could tell all your friends and future friends that you saw the Grand Canyon!” I sucked in air to prepare for my next thought provoking comment.
“I think there is a nicer view from over there on those steps, honey. Come on, I’ll race you.” Always the peacemaker, my husband grabbed our only daughter’s hand and disappeared through the throng of tourists.
Three gift stores later and fifty dollars worth of merchandise that we had to figure how to get home, we exited the park for our return trip to the resort. I clamped my legs and waited for the next exit that hopefully had a gift shop and a bathroom.
“Mom?” Samantha leaned over the front seat. “I really did think the canyon was cool. I promise I’ll tell all my friends back home.” She touched my upper shoulder gently and then settled back into her pillow-padded seat surrounded now by halfwritten postcards.
Choking back tears of remorse from my earlier guilt provoking words, I reached for the bag I now held between my feet.
“Samantha, would you like to look at these brochures I picked up at the last gift shop? There might be something fun we could plan to do tomorrow.” I mentally scratched off the Indian runs and lava mountains and turned my thoughts to the mall that we had passed on our way out of the city. Maybe I could tell her about how God made malls so we could have bathrooms when we needed them.
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