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Our Labor Day Vacation: Public Restroom Tour of America

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The last push of summer, Labor Day weekend, has sadly arrived. For control freak parents like me, Labor Day requires a great deal of labor to appear labor-less for the brood you love.  Marking the end of summer, it's an iconic American holiday, so there's serious pressure to have the most family fun EVER. I’m talking Norman-Rockwell-painting family fun. Kennedy-Camelot-football-tossing-fun. You get the picture.

Today, tightly wired moms are maneuvering grocery carts at dangerously high speeds, ticking items off their iPhone lists faster than the average man can read it. Washers and dryers are working overtime, duffle bags are being packed, and school supplies are sitting patiently in the corner until Tuesday. 

Concerned not enough fun is planned for the weekend, or worried too many Uno cards are missing from the deck, anxious parents are scurrying to purchase last minute kites, Bananagrams, and forking out cash for that odd PVC pipe game involving golf ball numchucks.

True perfectionists are desperately googling Martha Stewart articles regarding not only how to pack the perfect picnic basket, but also how to embellish it… because

nothing says family fun, like an decoupaged, origami picnic basket.

Boys in front of NikeOn a previous Labor Day trip to Chicago with my sons, as an admitted control freak, I left nothing to chance. I created a detailed itinerary to maximize the fun: the John Hancock Building, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, Nike store, a Chicago steakhouse, a little shopping at 900 Michigan and tickets to see Mary Poppins.

Sure, my boys thought all that stuff was interesting, but they weren’t wowed. After seeing Mary Poppins, on the quaint carriage ride back to our hotel, the boys oohed and ahhed over the horse’s steamy dump. Mary Poppins had just flown over our heads in a starlit theater. The boys gave flying Mary Poppins a smile and nod, but splattered horse sh*t on a city street received their standing ovation. "Yeah, baby! Woot-woot! We l-u-u-u-u-u-v Chicago!"

Mary PoppinsIn the Nike store I lost all three of them. Filled with panic, I hoped they would come around the corner, any second, arms filled with merchandise. Instead, I spotted them two stories up, riding the escalators. “Hey-" I shouted, “if you guys aren’t gonna try on any shoes, let’s move on to the next activity on my list.” Only to hear in response, “Mom! These escalators rock! Can we ride a little longer? How come we don't have these at home?” I glanced down, relieved to find I wasn't wearing my “Appalachia is fer Families” t-shirt.

At the top of the John Hancock Tower, my youngest announced, “You guys GOTTA check out the urinals in this bathroom. Come on!” Three minutes were spent admiring the Chicago skyline and an additional ten examining the public restroom.

The pricey steakhouse did impress.  “Mom, you picked a great place. Totally awesome crackers. Did you know there's huge peppermints floating in the urinals? And you can pay a guy to watch you pee? So fancy.” Yes, well, along with the free matches, that's why the guidebook said we should eat here.

 To parents who want to provide a memorable Labor Day weekend for your kids, I wish you well. After vacuuming the minivan, loading the cooler, and taking your pet to the kennel, you might want to bedazzle your noise-reducing headphones and get prepared for Plan B.

In the meantime, I’ll be home charting our next family vacation: the Public Restroom Tour of America. 

The boys are excited to see the sights!