Breaking Point

Did you have a good spring break? Do a little traveling and recharge your batteries?

Great. Great. Good for you.

I know you were worried, so I will allay your fears. The Stiles held down the fort while you were gone. Yup, we were the only folks in Montgomery County who didn’t go anywhere.


If you are reaching for Child Protective Services contact info., slow your roll. My kids researched and discarded this idea at least once a day the entire 10 days they were home.

Home, AKA Jail.

Which would make me the warden in a prison of my own making. Well, not entirely my own doing. See, two of our three school breaks coincided with the week after Easter, but my oldest returned to school the Tuesday after Easter.

However, his excessively long 17-day break included a trip to Spain to play ruby. He landed stateside before Easter but the train, plane and bus-laden journey through a foreign country made him want to just hunker down at Chez Stiles.

Bye-bye quick hop to the beach, hello bitter siblings.

To make matters worse, my husband and I also traveled just before Easter on a work trip to Florida. I tried to alleviate my guilt by gifting my kids with exotic Floridian trinkets like a jar of Alligator Poop (chocolate-covered peanuts), but they were underwhelmed.

What has the world come to when boys are not completely jazzed by a gift with “poop” in the name?

Finally, the boys saw first-hand what I had been admonishing for years—social media will come back to bite you. As the Snap Chat stories in exotic locales grew daily, so did the complaints.

By Day 3, I was drunk from all the whine. Or maybe hungover without benefit of ever enjoying the buzz.

I ignored a million writing and editing deadlines to offer up every activity I could think of—movies, the Renwick, cruise on the Potomac to see monuments and cherry blossoms, Sugarloaf hike and zip lines. Nope, nope, nope, nope and nope. I got the memo that nothing is fun unless you are doing it in a group.

Apparently Three Dog Night had it all wrong; two is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.

Then there was a sudden shift. The complaints and hatred toward me slowed to barely a trickle. The boys went outside and invented games. They went to the creek or walked into midtown. They even did a little homework and read.

As long as I got them out of the house for something every day and threw in a free meal and dessert, I was golden.

Their spring break was very similar to my experiences as a kid. I don’t even have specific memories of break because it was filled with nothingness, which was an adventure in and of itself.

In a world full of everything, spinning at warp speed, isn’t a little nothing OK? I think so.

I started the week wracked with guilt for my poor deprived children but then realized that they truly had a break. Even the summers are filled with sports and camps, so this was one of the few unscheduled times of the year for them.

We didn’t pack our bags or cross any time zones, but we recharged our batteries just the same.