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If it’s summer, crowded and hot; it’s time for a Toth family vacation

By John Toth

The Bulletin


Family vacations were my specialty when the kids were little. I planned it out to the last little detail, created safety nets for mistakes and made sure that we had a lot of fun - for a very long time - every day.


I made the most of our vacation spending, so there wasn’t a lot of downtime while we were getting away at peak season, when it was hot and everyone else was also getting away. To me, the challenge was part of the fun.


Today’s vacations are less hectic and take less planning, especially if we are cruising, which has to be the simplest way to take a vacation. We just unpack in our ship cabin, then the ship takes us to different ports and comes back to its original destination. Then we get off and drive home.


But back in the early days, it was different. We packed up the boys and headed to the airport to fly to Orlando, where Disneyworld awaited us. My younger son, Bobby, was four. My older son, Johnny, was seven. My daughter, Stephanie, wasn’t born yet. It was technically Bobby’s birthday trip, so we had to let the flight attendants know that we had a birthday boy traveling with us.


The Delta captain overheard it and asked Bobby if he wanted to sit in the pilot’s seat. Bobby was a little shy, but Johnny took advantage of the opportunity and hopped in the seat.


“There are so many buttons,” he told the pilot. “What’s this button for?”


The Pilot played along.


“We don’t know. We’ve never pushed it. Push it and let’s see what happens,” he said.


Johnny didn’t dare to push the button.


Once we got to Orlando, we lost Bobby for a short while near the “Honey, I Shrank the Kids’’ playground. Luckily, he wore a Donald Duck hat, and we caught up with him as he was being escorted by a very nice elderly lady to one of the cast members.


“Honey, I lost the kid.” That would have been the appropriate line for that situation. We were too upset at the time to come up with it.


On an earlier vacation to South Padre Island, where we rented a condo by the beach, Johnny was bugging me to go back to the beach. I didn’t want to, but I made a deal with him.


“If you let me sit poolside and let me read the paper, we’ll go to the pool,” I told him. Bobby was just a baby, and he was still just content with lying around, nursing and sleeping.


I immersed myself in the newspaper as John enjoyed the pool. He already knew how to swim. On the other end, there were two girls making a lot of noise.


“Dad, I think that girl is drowning,” said John.


She was. She went under for a second time as she tried to stay above water. She somehow slipped into the deep end and could not swim.


I jumped in, pulled her back to the surface and pushed her onto the side of the pool, where she started coughing and spitting up water. She was scared, but other than that, she was alright.


“That was embarrassing,” said John.


“You saved her life,” I replied. “If you don’t nag me about going to the beach, and if we don’t come out here, she may have drowned.”


Just another day in the “Toth Family Vacations - The Early Years.”

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