Friday, July 18, 2014

Tanoshii: Anticipation of Our Vacation

Everyone at work asks the same question: “Are you excited about your vacation?”

And everyone looks at me quizzically when I say that I’m much more stressed out than excited. They look as if I’m crazy that I’m not heads-over-heels excited about our dream journey of going to Japan.

When my sister and I were kids, in the days leading up to our annual summer trips, our mom would always tell us that tanoshii ga ichiban i toki, meaning that the anticipation of the vacation was the best part. I don’t know if I fully agreed with that; the trips themselves were usually pretty great, too, but I now understand what she meant. The time leading up to the vacation is when you’re supposed to be excited.

So, why am I not?

Maybe it’s because I’m thinking about all the stressful experiences we have had with Kai on previous vacations.

There was the time in the Great Smoky Mountains when Kai yelled and screamed the entire way up the not-all-that-long hike to the top of Clingman’s Dome.

Then there was the time last summer in the Tetons when Kai was barely able to tolerate the long wait for the boat that would take us back across the lake to our car. The agony of that wait still seers in my memories.

And then there was the awful time when Kai had a very huge public meltdown at the aquarium at Niagara Falls when he didn’t get his turn to feed the seals because they ran out of fish.

And so I’m pretty sure something will happen on this trip, too. It always does.

And as destinations go, Japan will probably be one of the more challenging ones for Kai.

Japan is a small country with many people. And so it is very crowded in the big cities. Kai hates crowds.

Many people smoke in Japan, and they don’t have the non-smoking areas that we have here. Kai hates smoke.

Summer is not the ideal time to visit Japan. It is very hot and humid there now. Kai hates heat and humidity.

There are many places in Japan that abound with colors, noises, and activities. For Kai, that translates into an overload of stimuli.

There will be plenty of magnificent sights to see. Everyone will want to take their time to take it all in as this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of us. Kai doesn’t tolerate waiting very well.

And so, there is no doubt in my mind that Kai will get very upset. The only questions are when, where, how often, and how severe.

It is hard to deal with situations when Kai gets upset at home. It is more challenging when we face these types of situations in public.

But it will be even more difficult when things like this impact, not just me and my wife, but all of our family members who will be with us.

I so want this to be a great experience for everyone. I so fear that there will be major blowups that could ruin the trip for all.

Some have advised me not to worry about it. But that is an impossibility.

Besides, I think the best way to minimize the problems is to try to proactively act as best we can.

We have tried to set expectations with Kai. We have warned him of the smoke and crowds and waiting and all that. We have prepared a schedule so he knows what we might do each day. We are trying to come up with strategies for when challenges arise… for instance, my wife or I taking him back to the hotel to get a break.

But in the end I think there is only so much we can do.

And that reminds me of another of my mom’s sayings: shikata ga nai, which means it cannot be helped.

I oftentimes feel like I get disappointed when my expectations are too high. Maybe it will turn out to be the opposite this time.


  1. I am anticipating your future articles. Kai must be very excited.

    1. Kai seemed more nervous and anxious than excited until just prior to the time of our vacation. He often feels anxious about new things so this wasn't unexpected.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...