Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 03.09.10
Stanstead, Quebec


Give me a break

The following conversation took place between me and my kids, except that it has been paraphrased, embellished, mildly distorted and pretty much entirely made up.

"Dad, what are we doing for March Break?"

Well, I don't know about you but I'm going to work.

"What about us?"

You're welcome to join me if you like.

"No, seriously, are we going to do anything?"

I imagine you're going to sleep in and enjoy not going to school for ten days.

"I mean, are going to do anything fun? Are we going to go anywhere?"

Why do we have to go anywhere? Since when does March Break have to be this family vacation in the middle of the school year? Who's responsible for this? The travel industry? The City of Fort Lauderdale? Hallmark?

"Geez, Dad, calm down. Get off the table. And get with the times. Everybody does something on March Break these days."

Oh yeah? Like what?

"Jeanie's parents are taking her on a Caribbean cruise aboard the HMS Excessia. It's not the biggest ship in the Caribbean but it is the tallest. There's all-you-can-eat quail, all-you-can-play mah-jong, a fitness centre, a laziness centre and nightly entertainment by former "Three's Company" star Joyce De Witt, who doesn't look a day over 82."

I have one word for you: Tsunamis.

"Mark's family has rented a condo in Kapaluchafunki, Peru, where they're going to learn the spiritual ways of the Wachipu people while climbing the 17th highest peak in South America. Plus, they're all getting tattoos that read, 'Wachipu (Gesundheit).' Wow, they must be rich!"

Mark's father is bald.

"And Marlene, she's going skiing in Banff for five days."

That's a funny a word: "Banff." It's like there's not even a vowel there. Banff. Banff. It sounds like someone getting hit in the head with one of those giant inflatable hammers you get at the fair: "BANFF!"

"Dad! You're not taking this seriously! What are we going to do on March Break? If we don't do something, our social standing will plummet, our hairstyles will suddenly be uncool, we'll be forced to commit delinquent acts and you'll be the worst parents ever. It's bad enough we don't even have cable and you actually give us a curfew on school nights. What are we going to do!"

Okay, first of all, you're spitting on me. Second, March Break is an arbitrary time period fabricated by the educational complex after they decided that summers and 20 PED days a year wasn't enough time off.

I'm sorry, but the real world doesn't work that way. I can't just say, "You know what? I think I'm going to take a week off work. Sorry about the recession, Economy, but that's the way it goes."

Not that I begrudge you kids your time off. After all, you're young and you've been working really hard at school sneaking onto Facebook and Bebo. You've certainly earned a break.

I just don't see why it has to be "A Break" in capital letters. To me, this pressure to "do something" is just one more way to make parents feel inadequate and guilty and, frankly, one more way to raise unrealistic expectations in our children that life is fun.

So by all means, enjoy your March Break. Sleep in. Stay in your pyjamas all day. Have cake for breakfast. Go outside and make slush angels. Here's money to go bowling. I dunno, use your imagination to create your own fun. But we're not "doing" anything until this summer when once again I blow most of my year's salary on a "Vacation." And, yes, I'm using that word ironically. Okay? Do you get it? Am I clear?

"Dad's cranky. Let's go ask Mom."