After scratching many options, we finally made a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine last week. I asked our kids to write a journal or a story or an essay about the trip. As inevitably they whined and complained, I attempted to write something about it too, in order to show I lead by example :-).
I’ve come to appreciate why millions of families embark on a road trip during the summertime. It’s a time to bond and reflect. Our trip took us to a few small towns dotting the coast of Maine. We made three stops, cramming into one hotel room each night.
The kids got to choose whom they would bunk with. Aidan and Allison started off with an abundance of brotherly and sisterly love. They cuddled together to enjoy hard-fought TV time, and they splashed in the swimming pool, making hand-stands. But as time wore on, complaints abounded—who kicked whom, who got to decide on the movie—and each of us had to take in one kid to make peace. Their interaction was not all noise; we enjoyed listening to them. At one dinner, Allison was reading off the ingredients of her blueberry soda, and Aidan just could not find a comparable list on his drink even with it right in front of him the whole time. The sister was quick to grab the bottle and started to teach him like a kindergarten teacher. Here goes the smarty sister!
Between four of us, poor Aidan got yelled at the most, for transgressions that ranged from flooding the bathroom to eating the whole bag of chicken nuggets. Aside from these small clumsy incidents, Aidan was a joy. Now as tall as I am, he briskly strode through three five-mile hikes, carried backpacks and prodded the exhausted sister. He is funny, always cracks us up. Along the long drive, we learnt quite a bit from him, like the difference between rap, hip pop and cheesy pop. We had to turn up the music when his favorite artist was on, and he got to learn to ask in a civil manner when he needed us to raise the volume. Whenever that happened, we had to take a deep breath—we need to take the kids for what they are, not what they should be.
2020 is quite a year full of uncertainty and emotional hardships. If it was not for COVID, we would have flown to Asia again, making the yearly pilgrimage to the other side of the world. Dad is in the waning phase, and sadly all we can do now is pray he can linger longer so we get to see him next year. Many years ago when I visited home, Dad murmured to himself and to me: “You are not Chinese anymore… you act like—I don’t know, not Chinese.” I don’t know what he thinks Americans or Chinese should act like. But Dad and I had very little in common to share. How could we not? After all, we live in totally different environments. Dad never verbalized any deeper disappointment over letting go of a daughter inside out. He must have taken my decision as is, not as should be.
When we stood by Eagle Lake, a fjord, reading about the history of Somesville, a municipality in Mount Desert Island, I was in awe of the people who came here by boat for thousands of years. They chose this land considering the access to the ocean and the protection they could have against the waves. And now our family was enjoying this magnificent land. One night I looked up the history of the National Park Service (NPS) and how NPS preserves vast terrains of natural land. My eyes welled up as I read, “This land is your land.”
The way home was long with weekend traffic. Our car hummed along on I-95 South, and I was content—home is where I was enveloped by Keyu’s audiobook and the kids’ squabbling over their sucky hands of cards.