There's no escaping it. When you take teenagers on vacation, you are bound to embarrass them in some way.
Frankly, to teenagers, going anywhere with their parents is embarrassing. Their embarrassment is amusing to us parents, which makes us laugh, which in turn, makes them even more embarrassed.
It started for us in the airport when we took too long ordering at Starbuck's and the line backed up into the hallway. Then we couldn't fit the luggage in the rental car and had to ride with suitcases on our laps sticking out the window.
And then there was their father talking loudly on his cell phone in public everywhere we went, and me asking questions on the college visits and making small talk with the tour guides. The list goes on in the many ways in which we embarrassed our kids on vacation.
So, I told them this was their Wally World and we were Clark and Ellen Griswold. They had no choice but to put up with us for an entire week. Of course, we also had to put up with them, their awful music they insisted on blasting in the rental car and singing at the top of their lungs, for example. But isn't this what vacation is all about, togetherness at any cost?
Secretly, as much as they complain about us, I think they really do enjoy having our mostly undivided attention, away from work and away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. It's a time to listen, re-connect and create memories by sharing new experiences together. And while they might not totally appreciate it at the time, hopefully, someday, their recollections of family vacations will be warm and positive, a roadmap for what to do with their own children.
After all, going to Wally World in the movie National Lampoon's Vacation was about the parents doing whatever they had to do to make it to their kids' ultimate destination and give them the perfect vacation.
We all have a little Clark Griswold in us. Whatever your Wally World is, it's worth every second of effort to get there if it means your children will have the experience of a lifetime, even if it comes with little embarrassment along the way ...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.