Thanks to a rare break in the NHL on TSN schedule, for the first time in...ah...ever, I took the family on a winter vacation. Since I haven't written a column in...ah...almost ever, I figured I'd keep a running diary to satisfy the legions of readers (ah...three) who ask me to write more of this trivial family stuff.
- 2:45 a.m. wake-up call for 6:10 a.m. flight to St. Lucia. What drug was I on when I booked this? (Charlie Sheen?) Waking up three kids at 2:45 is like inviting that creepy Paranormal Activity spirit into their bodies for the rest of the day. There is now a solid chance one of them will melt my face off before day's end. Wait, that was Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now mixing lame outdated movie metaphors...early sign of blogging dementia.
- My 7-year-old daughter looks out the plane window and says, "Dad, we're in outer space!" I tell her, very teacher-like, that we're not quite that high, and we'd have to leave the atmosphere to be in outer space. She says (direct quote): "School's different now from when you were a kid, Dad. Trust me, we're in outer space."
- Arrive at Windjammer Landing Resort in St. Lucia. It is several degrees of awesome. Hillside villas set over a postcard cove and beach. And it's famous for water sports and little sporting competitions between guests - young and old. Technically these are called "Fun Beach Activities." I call them "War."
- Fist-bump wife for finding this place. Tell her I fully intend to dominate the competitions. She looks genuinely terrified of the public humiliation I may bring the family this week.
- Eager to make an early statement and show my athletic prowess (which is often lost in my TV studio powder-puffed daily life), I enter Windjammer Kayak Championship.* Proceed to dominate my heat, semi-final, and final.** Win t-shirt. Hold it above head like Stanley Cup. Wife hides face under towel on nearby lounge chair.
(*It should probably be noted that in the semis, I cut off my opponent - a 60-something grandmother from Boston - at the turn to win. No mercy. #Tigerblood.)
(**Oh, and in the final, the guy I was racing against stopped to talk to a hot girl who was swimming, and never actually bothered to finish. Whatever. His lack of focus will never diminish the historical significance of this title. I'm thinking of getting a ring made.)
- My daughters are playing on the beach with a cute little blonde girl named Emma, who is staying at the resort for a month. "How did you pull off a month-long vacation, Emma?" I ask, trying to make cutesy kid conversation.
"My parents have the Cha-Ching," she answers, without even looking up from her sandcastle. God I love kids.
- Take a full-day catamaran tour around gorgeous St. Lucia. At one point, late in a perfect day, with the sun going down like a painting, and my seven-year-old and I dangling our feet over the front of the boat, she says, "Dad, I want to tell you something."
This is it. One of those Hallmark moments where she says something like "I want this moment to last forever" or "I love you Daddy, I'll always be your little girl." I smile in anticipation and wrap my arm around her. "What is it honey?"
"I named my butt Bryce"
"My butt. I named it Bryce."
For the rest of the week, she insists I address Bryce every time I speak to her. As in: "Gracie and Bryce, time for dinner!" Should this concern me? Psychologists, feel free to write a paper.
- Still basking in glow of kayaking triumph, accept invitation to participate in resort's "Caribbean King" dance competition during evening entertainment. Pull out every move in my 80's repertoire - robot, running man, lawn mower, sprinkler (my go-to move, much like Seth Rogan's dice-roll in Knocked Up) to qualify for final, where I lose to a large guy who takes off his shirt, jiggles his gut, and does the worm. Who can answer that? I was like the dude Eminem beat in the rap contest at the end of 8 Mile. I had no answer. Just stood there. Crushing loss. Hard to even look at my kids.
- Take 11-year-old son on his first snorkeling trip. He dives down and finds a perfect conch. When he surfaces and proudly shows me his find, I yell "He has the conch! Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!" They apparently haven't read Lord of the Flies by Grade Six, as he just stares at me blankly. Something he learned from his mother.
- Get crushed in Windjammer Horseshoe contest by...just about everyone, including a trio of English women who don't even know how to hold a horseshoe properly. Fear I may actually lose Canadian Citizenship for this. Kayaking title now a fading memory.
- Take a family kayak trip (go back to what you know, kid) down the beach to a neighbouring resort that is home to a talking parrot. Could swear I hear parrot say: "Chara shoulda got three games."
- Family Activity Day continues with ride on one of those giant inflatable bananas. The banana boat is probably the single safest roped-device-behind-speedboat sport. Your elderly great grandma...your infant...your pet bunny...they could all ride the giant inflatable banana without any fear of falling off.
- Get distracted by girls passing by on Jet Ski. Fall off giant banana. Not kidding. Kids and wife think this is the funniest thing in the history of...history.
- 9-year-old daughter (competitive swimmer) beats me in breaststroke race to giant inflatable iceberg. This is significant because I really tried, instead of the old Daddy-lets-em-win thing I've doing for years. Not sure if I should be thrilled for my little girl's ability, or concerned that five days of all-inclusive eating has made me barely buoyant.
- Sweet Redemption! Daughter and I win back-to-back kids and adult bottle-fishing competition (bottle fishing involves dropping a little wired circle at the end of a fishing line on to the top of a bottle. Takes the hands of a surgeon. It's extremely compelling. There should really be a televised tour on TSN. Okay, TSN2 anyway. I would have Vic Rauter and Pierre do commentary. I would watch this.
- Couple gets married at sunset on the beach in front of resort. Could not imagine a more beautiful setting. Say to wife: "I think I may have my next wedding there." She kinda chuckles. Progress.
- My boy discovers some secret crab commune in the forest near our villa. (Just wondering...shouldn't crabs be in the ocean, or at least next to it, not 100 metres up the hill? Did my son just discover a new step in evolution? Were the crabs fed up with sea life and planning to get a condo in the city? Could someone with a marine biology background tweet me on this?)
- Boy and his sisters gather 20 crabs in a large sandbox and form illegal crab-racing ring. Within 5 minutes, they have 15 resort guests wagering. Youngest daughter has named every crab, and lets betters know who they have their money on. Grown women are screaming "C'mon Bob! Get moving!" No crabs are named Bryce. That is taken.
- Rent Jet Ski for half hour. Each kid gets 10 minutes. Seven-year-old gets on, only after wife makes me promise to not go faster than 10 miles an hour. I'm going about 15mph when the little one yells, "C'mon, floor it grampa!" I comply, as she laughs and whoops for the entire ride. Though she later complains that Bryce is sore from the bumps.
-Say goodbye to the staff at Windjammer, who treated us like family, and fly home. Hear "Best Vacation Everrrr!" 743 times from kids on the way, and curse the fact that TSN does not have a St. Lucia bureau. Though they'd probably give it to John Lu. Damn Lu. He gets everything.