By Kristin van Ogtrop
Updated January 07, 2015
Kristin van Ogtrop

This morning I walked from the train to work with my friend Martha, whose son just finished his first year of college. She picked him up over the weekend, and he left the following day for Martha’s Vineyard. When her son returns from Martha’s Vineyard, he will be home for two days, then he’s going scuba diving in Bonaire with his father. Then—ok, then he has a summer job.

My own dear eldest just finished his first year of college. We picked him up last Friday, he was home for 15 hours, and then he flew to Peru for 3 weeks. Then—ok, then he has a summer job.

Truth: there is NOTHING more annoying or more likely to make a child go on screensaver than when a parent says, “When I was your age, I used to walk five miles to school/had never even been on an airplane/had to cut the grass twice a week/worked in a factory in the summer*/made dinner for the family every night/blah blah blah blah blah**.” But how can a parent help herself from going down that annoying conversational path, when, well, when she’s never even been to South America!

An important word about my eldest son. He is a very, very good kid. Typical first child who takes it all quite seriously (probably too seriously). He does well in school, has varied interests, and treats his parents—and even, sometimes, his brothers–with love and respect. He seems to have a strong work ethic and a strong moral center. What more could a mother want?

And yet: he has been to Berlin, and I haven’t. He has been to Prague, which I have been dying to visit ever since reading this sad, magical book. And now, perhaps the last straw–Machu Picchu.

He paid for all of these trips himself. Still: what am I doing wrong?!? In other words, how do I get to Machu Picchu?

Sigh. Maybe I just have the Monday blues. Maybe I just had a frustrating commute this morning. Or maybe, just maybe, Martha and I need to plan our own vacation, ASAP.

*that was yours truly. Westvaco in Newark, DE. I worked on the assembly line putting small boxes into big boxes. Remind me to tell you sometime about my struggles with marshmallow Peeps.

**this is exactly how it sounds to your kid