A few weeks ago, my daughter and I took our first Mother/Daughter trip. Now, we have traveled together before, but never just the two of us and I will admit, I was very nervous about spending 5 full days alone with a teenager. But we were both looking forward to our time together, but more than that - I was looking forward to some much needed beach time.
We arrived in St. Thomas, USVI on a Wednesday afternoon and the locals gave us a friendly welcome. From the airport, we were whisked away in a cab to where we would spend the first half of our trip, the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef. We arrived with a group of other travelers to learn that our room was not quite ready. This was fine with me, but I could tell that my daughter was a little irritated as she was ready to get out of her “traveling clothes” and into something more comfortable, maybe a pair of shorts and tank top. I invited her to come and tour the pool area with me so that when our room was ready, we could jump right into our suits and into the water. That seemed to distract her – but for just a moment. Within 15 minutes, the first of many questions came: "do you think our room is ready yet? and if not, how soon do you think it will be ready?" Ahhhhhhh – that is when I realized that this child was going to ruin every bit of quite time I was planning to have.
Eventually we made it to our room and the child was pleased. The room received a thumbs-up from her, we both jumped in the shower, threw on some island appropriate clothes and we were off to schedule our snorkeling tour, grab some dinner and plan our stay. Wait?! Plan our stay? I already had our stay planned – beach, read, sleep, listen to music, repeat. She can’t be serious: 99 Steps, Bluebeard's Castle, Paradise Point, Mountain Top, Shopping?! Who gave this child access to the internet?! I had to come up with an alternate plan. I was deep in thought at dinner (best burgers EVER - Duffy's Love Shack) while she chatted and chatted away. I thought I had a plan: I would distract her with shopping first thing in the morning. I figured the walking around town would wear her out and by noon she should be ready for a nap and some relaxing in Magens Bay would be all mine! But who was I kidding? She was 16, not 6. There would be no napping. I had to give in to the fact that this was her vacation, her time….I snapped out of my thoughts just in time to hear her say: “can we get some ice cream?”
The next day, I gave up on my plan to nap and let her lead me around the island. From downtown shopping in Charlotte Amalie to 99 steps to Bluebeard’s Castle to luxury shopping at Yacht Haven Grande to Mountain Top to Magens Bay. YES! Magens Bay where I was allowed an opportunity to lay in the sun (which was already starting to disappear) and enjoy the crystal blue water; but only for a moment before the next question was asked: “what are we doing next?” And we were off…..
The following day was pretty much the same. Snorkeling tour and more questions…..what’s this, where’s that, and her all-time favorite – what are we doing next? Sigh...does this child turn off? I was exhausted, and still had no tan lines. When will vacation begin I wondered?
We left St. Thomas after two nights and headed over to St. John for the last leg of our trip. Here, it was more of the same. Shopping and eating. Walking and talking. Laughing and learning. I was beginning to enjoy her (and her questions) as we jumped the waves at Trunk Bay and wondered the beach looking for sea shells. I was enjoying getting to know who she is now, as a young adult, exploring the world and Tweeting as she went. I suddenly realized that this is how she vacations, and her version was different from my version. I accepted that.
There were moments that showed me how much she has grown, and no longer needs me; but there were also moments that showed me in a lot of ways, she is still my child and will always need me. I watched as she played in the sand and explored the water with her new goggles. I laughed when a huge wave came and, in her words, tried to take her out. By the end of the trip there was something different about our relationship. Our bond had become stronger. There was a better understanding and appreciation for each other and our differences. No longer were we just Mother/Daughter, we were also friends.
As we walked hand-in-hand onto the plane headed home she asked one last question: “where are we going next?” Any where you want child, any where you want.
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