They want their toys and their bed, their highchair and their schedule. They don't want to eat foreign dirt off strange floors; they want to poke their little fingers into familiar corners and find the cruddy, stale Os they saved from three snack-times ago.
Or at least my toddlers do.
We took a vacation with my family when The Boy was 15 months old. About four or five days into that trip, he hit a wall. In hindsight, the crankiness didn't seem so bad and it was easy to blame on a case of roseola he came down with then. Surely, the vacation wall was a one-time thing.
But sometime late last Wednesday afternoon, The Lad -- age 16 months -- hit his own vacation wall. Nothing could console him. He didn't want me. He didn't want the husband. We tried to blame teething and a little cough and maybe those things contributed -- he was a little warm -- but mostly, I think he just wanted to be home. The husband and I had planned that night to take our boys to a minor league baseball game -- the Savannah Sand Gnats, how great is that name? -- but I ended up staying home with The Beastie. He finally cried himself to sleep and when he woke the next morning, you could see him looking around like, "What the fuck? I'm still here."
And then the crying started again. Eventually, we found things to make him happy, usually food-related, but for the rest of the trip, The Lad was volatile. Any little thing could set him off and then the crying fit would last for the better part of an hour.
The bonus of this kind of vacationing: By the time vacation is over, everyone wants to come home. The end of the trip isn't awful, but it's clearly not home sweet home, so you're left with no regrets about not being able to stay longer. I kind of like that.