Parents, international: only call if it’s an emergency

My parents and in-laws are presently on vacation. Together. In Canada.

Yes, my parents and my wife’s parents are actually friends. They were sort of forced into a friendship when my sister married my wife’s brother. With two children each betrothed to members of the same family, it became impossible for them to hide behind the birthday party small talk so commonly associated with the parents/in-laws relationship.

Now, are they vacation friends? We shall see. As someone who has spent many a vacation with my parents … we shall see. (Back in ’88 my mom told my dad to turn left when he should have turned right while trying to find our way back to the Howard Johnson’s hotel on a family vacation in historic Williamsburg, VA. I ended up on the verge of tears in the back seat, thinking their divorce was imminent. I experienced this raw emotion while wearing a tri-corner colonial hat.)

As far as their ability to get along is concerned, my wife and I were both comforted by our respective parents' mutual and bizarre preparation for a week without any communication with the Motherland.

First, my parents prepped me with all the details of their trip as I pretended to write everything down. My mom said, “I’ll try and text you when we land, but I really don’t know how that will go because Verizon considers Canada ‘international.’” I was like, “Yeah, well, Canada IS international, but I’m pretty sure they know about cellular phones there.”

The night before they departed, we video chatted with my in-laws and got the lowdown from them. Here is what my mother-in-law said: “Okay so listen, we’re not going to be able to communicate from up there, so please don’t call or text. Unless it’s an emergency, God forbid. If it’s an emergency, don’t hesitate, but otherwise, just don’t because we don’t know. Now please, tell the girls I love them and that Nannie will call them RIGHT when she gets back. Oh I’m going to miss their little voices (tearing up) … it’s okay, it’s just a week.”

My wife and I were cracking up discussing all the conversations we had with our parents prior to their big trip. We were like, “Guys, you’re going to CANADA. Not an obscure Middle Eastern province. The Blue Jays play there.”

The following day, at 10:51 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, I received this text from my mom: “Landed safely, getting car. Having trouble sending this text so I hope you get it!”

I pictured my mom turning on her phone after landing only to discover that everything has been translated to French Canadian. Unable to locate her contacts, she tries her best to text her children regarding her safety - "HOW DO YOU DO THIS HERE?" she screams as her fingers hit unidentifiable buttons. “Well,” she says to her husband, “I texted Mike, but who knows where it went. I just pray he got it because I’m sure Verizon is going to charge me $100 for it either way.”

Thankfully, my mom wasn't the only one who overcame various Canadian technological obstacles to send a simple text. My mother-in-law sent my wife a text to remind her not to text and also to tell her husband to bring the bag down.

Ha, ha ... looks like they're having a great time already!

It’s been very tough for my wife and I, as you can imagine, being unable to talk with our parents for the time being, deprived of the wonderful stories about the people we don’t even know who died or had successful knee surgery.

But, this is their time. I hope they made it safely to the hotel, and I hope they were comforted to discover Canada has the Internet, just in case. I hope Tony brought the carrying bag back down. I hope they get along and enjoy themselves in that strange, faraway land. I hope my dad is not driving.

Note: This column appears in the 8/8 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/9 issue of the Peoria Times.