I know what you’re thinking. We are living on the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples in Italy, which is an important tourist destination (at least for Italians, Germans, and some Russians). So, why do we need a staycation? Well, when you live in a tourist destination, the wonders of the spot tend to lose their shine after a while. Sometimes, you just want to huddle in the house, far away from the world. Baby Boy and I did just that over the Labor Day weekend. Ischia’s August tourists still hadn’t completely gotten off the island, so we avoided the crowds, put up a tent in Baby Boy’s playroom (see photo below) and camped out at home.
My own childhood memories inspired this staycation. Whenever my sister and I (we’d leave my brother home) would spend a few days with our cousin at my uncle’s house in Long Island, he would pitch a tent for us in the backyard, so we could “rough it.” Roughing it meant that my uncle would haul an air mattress, TV, and cable box outside. He would also make us popcorn and peach cobbler (after we already ate dinner in the house with him and my aunt mind you). Then, I would fall asleep in the tent, only to wake up in the morning and find my sister and cousin had hauled themselves in the house and into the bedroom while I was snoring.
In any event, those are some of the best memories I have, so I couldn’t wait to recreate some of the magic for my son. He’s not even 2 yet, so I didn’t think he’d really appreciate sleeping in the backyard, especially since the backyard is made of cement here and not grass like back in Long Island. No one around these here parts would be bringing us an air mattress or TV, not to mention peach cobbler. So, the tent, a gift from his American nonna, went in the playroom on his soft, foam tiles. I filled it with pillows and joined him. I also made him a dinner of chicken breast, homemade rosemary focaccia, and homemade, hand-cut French fries with parsley and salt. Of course, if we were home, I would have either made peach cobbler or s’mores for dessert. But we are not in the States, so we made due with Oreo cookies. (Yes, you can buy them here in select locations, but nonno sends them from home on occasion. And we know how bad they are for you, so don’t bother writing to tell us. We eat them in moderation as a treat once in a blue moon and it hasn’t killed us yet.)
When the sun went down, I closed all the lights in the apartment and the TV, and I turned on Baby’s Boy’s turtle, which projects stars and the moon onto the ceiling and walls. Frankly, anyone could make this staycation a reality. Make your favorite meal, purchase an affordable tent (this one came from Michael’s and was originally about $15) and buy a star projector (that could cost anywhere from $20 to $30). You can also buy a flashlight and tell scary stories or make a paper campfire and sing songs around it.
Baby Boy and I actually looked up at the “sky” from our tent and took note of the crescent moon and pretty stars. I asked Baby Boy what he was wishing for, and he babbled on and on. I wish I could understand what he was saying. For now, I have to settle for his nods and smile of delight – and a staycation that was better than some of my real vacations have been.