Perennial Vacation Argument Crops Up Again


By Wendy Belzberg

Published August 29, 2003, issue of August 29, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

We take a family vacation at the end of the summer, and every year my husband and I have the same argument: He works so hard during the year that he should be exempt from any responsibilities during our vacation — including taking care of our children. Both children are under the age of 6.

— Miles away from vacation

I admire your husband’s bold formulation. If you do nothing all year but watch daytime television and eat cream puffs in bed then he may very well be entitled to make such a claim. But whether you leave your home to work or work at home as your children’s primary caregiver, you too have earned a vacation.

The obvious compromise, if your budget allows it, is to take along a babysitter who can spare you both — not just to defuse the arguing, but also to afford you some time alone with each other. If that isn’t an option, why not at least bill the trip as what it is: your husband’s vacation, not a family vacation. You may choose to cater to his married-without-children delusion or plan your days without him and enjoy your children. The best plan may be to send him off for a couple of days alone to decompress. He can then let you know when he is ready to be part of the family. I suspect it won’t take long before he discovers what he is missing.

* * *

The parents of our very dear friends are antisemitic. We have never held this against them, and we appreciate their honesty. Our friends are going away for a week and are leaving their children with their parents. I don’t feel comfortable letting my children go over to play while the grandparents are the only ones at home. I am frankly worried about what they might say.

Discriminating eye

Your children are either young enough that a racial slur will go over their heads or old enough to learn that there are racists in our world. In the latter case, it is all the better that they make this discovery close to home with you nearby to help them navigate.

And that goes for many things beside antisemitism. If you want to control all of the things your children may be exposed to and that you may find objectionable, your children can look forward to a very lonely — and very artificial — childhood.

* * *

I have an old high-school friend who is known for his thriftiness (read: cheap). In all of our adult years, he has never once bought dinner; either I treat or we go Dutch. He recently bought tickets to a concert that we attended together. My wife insists that I offer to reimburse him. I say the cost of the tickets is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to everything I have paid for over the years.

— Uneven returns

Talk about mixing apples and oranges — or should I say concert tickets and meal tickets. By your logic why not let yourself into his house and help yourself to the contents of his refrigerator — or maybe even his wallet? It is no one’s fault but your own that you have picked up the tab for someone who has proven unwilling or unable to reciprocate. Your friend may indeed have a problem with generosity — and he would not be alone in that shortcoming — but he cannot be expected to know that you resent him for it. Speak your mind, or never pick up another tab — or both. But your friend does not owe you the concert tickets in exchange for past slights of which he may or may not be aware. Offer to pay him back. And don’t be surprised when he accepts.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at

Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight":
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here:
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.