Kid-Induced Claustrophobia is Real
I spent nine hours alone in a hotel room with my 5-year-old, high on Mt. Dew. So, how was your day?
My husband is a supervisor at an automotive manufacturing plant in our hometown.
For two weeks, he’s helping out at a short-staffed sister plant, two hours from home. His company put him up in a hotel, so he asked for me and our son to come stay a few nights over this past weekend. We obliged.
I love vacations. Even if it’s just for the weekend.
Weekend getaways are the absolute best.
Between 2013 and 2019 — before COVID and other life events hit — our family took annual summer vacations. I’m talking, the whole damn family. Parents, sisters and spouses, kids and pets.
These were vacations enjoyed in sprawling beach houses, homes with multiple rooms and vast amounts of space. Enough space to accommodate 13 humans, 2 dogs and one bird, without feeling smothered.
My husband’s corporate-paid suite is most definitely not a beach house. And I am most definitely feeling smothered.
It’s 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. I’m sitting alone at the small table near the room’s kitchenette. It’s quiet, because our son is still asleep on the sofa. I’m enjoying the silence, sipping the first of many cups of coffee that I know I’ll need to make it through the day. I take this opportunity to do some writing.
The clock turns 10:00. Still focused on my laptop, I feel eyes upon me. I’m hesitant, but I glance up.
The kid is awake. Awake and staring at me. He flashes a mischievous grin, one that makes me shiver to my core. I’m no longer alone, and it’s no longer quiet. I fear that the longest day of my life has just begun. I suddenly find it hard to breathe.
The day is gray and dreary. Had it been sunny — albeit freezing — I would have suggested taking a stroll, visiting the restaurants and shopping centers within walking distance of the hotel.
Instead, the gloomy weather casts its negative effect on my mood. I don’t feel like walking or sightseeing. Had I been alone, it may have been different. But exploring a city in 32 degree weather, with a rambunctious 5-year-old who hates walking and would rather veg in front of a television all day, is not my idea of fun.
He says, “I’m bored.”
My instinctive response is to scream, “SO AM I! AT LEAST YOU HAVE A DAMN XBOX! WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO TO PASS THE TIME?”
Instead, I nod in agreement, but put on my fake smile and say we’ll do something fun.
I suggest finding a show on TV. Watching a movie on Netflix. Nothing appeases him.
We go to the indoor heated pool. Apparently, “heated" means that you piss yourself to keep warm. After 20 minutes of goosebumps and chattering teeth, he’s ready to return to the room.
The next seven hours are a blur. A complete whirlwind of questions, demands, and random babbling.
Let’s go get ice! Ice is fun.
No, we have ice in the freezer.
Freezer ice isn’t fun…can we go to the 2nd floor? Please? Please? Please?
After the 87th “please”, I break down.
Since the room is equipped with a refrigerator that has an ice maker, there’s no ice bucket.
We take the elevator to the 2nd floor, capturing four cubes of ice in a coffee mug.
My son is elated with our four cubes. I’m just glad to have found a way to whittle away two minutes of the longest day of my life.
It’s 12:00 noon, and I’m seriously contemplating day drinking.
He’s grown bored of his Xbox, as well as all the toys he packed for entertainment.
Can we go buy a toy?
No, you have enough.
But they’re all at home!
Not my fault. I told you to pack all the toys you wanted.
I hate you! I wanna go home!
It’s 3:00. For some God-forsaken reason, my husband purchased a 20 oz bottle of Mt. Dew the night before. He told our son he couldn’t have it at night because it would make him “too wild”, but he could drink it the next day.
My husband must secretly hate me.
Daddy said I couldn’t drink this last night, but I can today! Please? Please? Please?
I hate my husband.
It’s 5:00. This kid’s caffeine has hit hard.
I’ve just opened my 2nd beer.
Can we swim? Where’s Daddy? I’m hungry. Are you buying me that toy I want? Do I have to take a bath today? When are we going home, ‘cuz I don’t wanna. I like hotels…can we live here forever and ever? But I wanna go home ‘cuz I miss all my toys and I forgot to get my Nintendo Switch. Do I have to wash my hair tonight?
And as he leaps off the armrest into a belly flop on the sofa — for 20 minutes straight — I’ve made up my mind…Maybe weekend getaways aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.