Chart Number 012

July 8, 2011

By Ekta R. Garg

She wasn’t born into a royal family, but my almost-three-year-old has come to the conclusion that it is her birthright to live in a hotel.

No one in our entire family comes anywhere close to royalty, unless you count my sister who was crowned homecoming queen back in 2003.  So unless some scandal breaks out about the voting session that bestowed the title on her, our family isn’t going to be in the tabloids any time soon and we certainly don’t live on a royal budget.  Middle-America, counting-our-pennies, just-trying-to-make-every-dollar-count is more our financial style.

And yet Almost Three has decided hotel living is the way to go.

I guess it isn’t completely her fault.  When we found out we would be moving to Salt Lake City at the end of June, our family sat down and had a discussion centered on a key question: fly or drive?  Flying had its advantages, but we’d never done a road trip of this magnitude before (Houston to Salt Lake clocked in at about 1500 miles, give or take a dozen.)  Now that the girls were older, we reasoned we could actually manage a road trip—even a long one.

Also we had to consider the moving truck.  If we flew we’d have to hang around in SLC in a hotel for about a week as we waited for the truck to catch up.  We decided instead to put that week to good use and drive.  After all if we had to stay in a hotel, why not do some sightseeing while we were at it?

And that’s how we ended up staying in five hotels in the span of nine days.  We stayed in the Houston area for two nights as the movers came one day to pack everything and then the next day to load it all into the truck.  From Houston we drove to Ft. Worth, Texas and stayed there one night; next came Amarillo, Texas for one night; the last stop on the road was Vail, Colorado for three nights; and then we spent two nights in a hotel in SLC as we waited for the moving truck to complete a similar route.

When I was young, I used to love staying in a hotel because it was such a rare treat.  Our family went on vacations just frequently enough that hotels were a novelty in my upbringing.  Even today I feel a quiet thrill when we decide to go on vacation and stay in a hotel.

My girls, I find, share the excitement.  All I have to say is the word “hotel” and they don’t care where we’re going or what we’ll be doing there.  They just know they get to sleep in a “magic bed” (our family’s code speak for the sofa bed that is frequently found in more and more hotel rooms) and get to eat in restaurants, they’re second-favorite thing after staying in hotels.

I should have guessed, however, that things would get a little sticky when, after the second day in Houston (before even hitting the road,) Almost Three asked in the evening whether we were going to stay in a hotel that night.

At the time I thought her question quite cute and reassured her we would.  The rest of the family chimed in with enthusiastic responses that we’d be staying in hotels for several days.  Almost Three was almost beside herself.

This ritual continued every day during our trip.  Often, Five (yes, folks, we just had a birthday in our house!) would ask the same question, but during all of our discussions about coming to Salt Lake City Five has quickly grasped the idea that the trip would end and we’d begin living here.  The hotel stays would conclude at some point.

Someone forgot to pass the memo on to Almost Three.

When we finally reached town the grownups were tired but satisfied; we’d survived the long car trip with the fewest problems possible.  The kids, once again, wanted to know whether we were staying in a hotel.  The grownups responded to the kids’ question with an exhausted, “Yes.”

When we moved into our new home, however, that evening Almost Three queried whether we were going back to the hotel.  The rest of us laughed and tried to explain we no longer had to stay in a hotel, that this was our new home and we were going to stay here.  Something in Almost Three’s head refused to accept this.

She has asked at some point of every single day for the last two weeks if we could go back to the hotel.

At first her questions seemed sweet.  But after the third or fourth day, I started to wonder just what we’d gotten ourselves into by embarking on such a road trip.  Given the circumstances of our move, the road trip was the best option for us and we took it.  No one could have anticipated such a reaction from the girls.

Fortunately Almost Three’s questions finally ceased about three days ago.  She’s slowly finding her way around the new place and making friends in our area.  More than that I think she’s figured out in her almost-three way that she isn’t going to be folding out any sofa beds any time soon.

We’ve faced a few adjustment issues (more on those in future Growth Charts!) but we’ve also seen positive progress every single day.  Hopefully we’ll all be able to look back at this road trip and remember this one anecdote with the fondness and humor we already view so many other tidbits of the girls’ lives.

Of course, the catch will come when we go on our next vacation, whenever that might be.  I just hope it’s long enough from now so that Her Highness doesn’t get caught up in the idea of a royal life forever.

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