Spring Break travel hassles

nicksmomMarch 6, 2009

Now that SD lives with us, she will go to her mom's for Spring Break.

We have plans to go to the beach with another family. We are driving to Atlanta Thursday afternoon (will probably arrive late Thurs night or Friday morning). We'll spend the night in Atlanta with our friends (whom we are beaching it with), and then caravan to FL Saturday morning. We'll stay at the beach until Wednesday, drive back to Atlanta, then head for home Thursday.

I found amazingly cheap flights for SD from Atlanta to her mom's town...seriously cheap $100 round trip! She would fly back to Atlanta Thursday, and we'd pick her up on our way home. Gives her a week with Mom. They are going to the beach for a few days, too, then time to see old friends or whatever. It's a week, which is what the agreement is. However, Mom wants her to come for 11 days, miss school, etc. If she does that, the flight is over $400. Of course, BM is supposed to be paying for 1/2 of travel, but we've yet to see a penny.

SD is doing very well in school, so that's not an issue. However, she is having her tonsils out soon, and will likely miss a few days then. Our school is pretty rigorous and firm in the attendance policy. So, we don't want her to get into attendance issues. So, DH doesn't really want her to miss an extra day now. Also, she is on the Forensics team, which always makes it to the state finals, and they will be practicing the last weekend of Spring Break for an upcoming tourney.

I told DH he needs to just chat with BM, and explain the situation. He said he will, but their conversations never end well, and he generally just caves to avoid an argument.

The difference in airfare is substantial (over $300), and since we cannot depend on BM to hold up her end of the "deal", my other thought was to have DH tell BM that we will book her flight from Atlanta, and she will need to book the flight home. I suppose that this is one way to get her to pay her portion of the flights, huh?

Any other ideas?

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Actually, I think your idea is a really good one. You're only determining your own behavior, and doing something that is fair and rational.

Of course, I'd be prepared for a pasive-agressive response that inconveniences you...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 11:38AM
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If the agreement is a week, then a week it is. You (or SD) shouldn't have to offer a plethora of reasons as to why 11 days won't work. SD has other obligations, she'll be there for a week, period. I understand BM's position of missing her, bt BM needs to understand SD's position of having a life.

As for the plane tickets, I think Sweeby has a great idea.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 3:45PM
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Spring break is spring break. Just cuz Bio mom wants more is her problem. Yea 11 days would be Great but it sucks that it isn't that long. Maybe during the summer huh. Bio mom needs to be grown up. Maybe Bio mom can get her own ticket and get a room and spend some evenings taking daughter to dinner after school...Just kidding, Like that would happen. Just tell her like the kids say "Ya get what ya get and ya don't throw a fit!!"

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 3:55PM
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DD missed few days of school in junior year because dad wanted few more days of vacation together since they wanted to go on a trip. DD graduated high school wiht IB diploma and is her second year in college, does well and is not damaged for life for missing few days. Few extra days wiht NCP would not end the world. CPs see kids every day, so sacrifice few days for NCP is not a big deal. i was happy to comply as long as DD didn't go over allowed missed days and as long as she made up her work and principal was OK with it.

If the issue is mom not complying wiht payment agreements, then you can buy tickets one way and she pays the other way. It is a good idea.

JNM, i think great way to keep peace and avoid drama is to be flexible. they planned for a week, now they want to add few days. big deal. Why argue over few days? school is important but it will be over one day. Of course one needs to have a life. But family is also "a life." In fact more "life" than school or sports teams, it will pass, but mom (or dad) will still be there. I don't know maybe it is just us. We are family crazy. DD is very much into mom/dad/grandma/aunt etc. She wants to see family every time she gets. Extracurricular activities is just that.

family that all there is in a long run.

PS Frankly I often felt bad for X and DD not seeing each other every day, so any time they wanted extra I was willing to go for it.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 4:05PM
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Yes, SD is at an IB school, and will be in the IB program next year. She is in all honors/AP classes now, and is busy in extra-curriculars (National Honor Society, Forensics, dance) too. She does have a busy life. And in reality, I think it only gets busier, the older they get. We know this too well. Unfortunately, with her previous trips to see her mom for long weekends and her upcoming surgery, it will put her over the allowable absences. We may put off the tonsillectomy until school gets out so she doesn't have to miss school/dance/etc, but that will then interfere with her summer visitation, which Mom won't like either.

And you are right, FD. Mom (and Dad...and the steps) will all be there when she's done with high school. We have all the time in the world to see her, but these high school activities are once in a lifetime things for her. Things she wants to do that are important to her. Not that her parents aren't...she just knows that they'll be there when she's done with this stuff.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 5:32PM
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"Why argue over few days? school is important but it will be over one day"

I have to say I really disagree with that attitude. There is already a week of spring vacation, and I don't think an extra few days is needed. I understand it is BM wanting SD to visit a few days longer and that this is not SD's idea but too bad for BM! spring break is 1 week and that's what she gets. I would say the SAME thing if it were a custodial BM and SD visiting dad.

What kind of preparation for adult life would we be giving our kids if we allowed them to take an extra day here and an extra day there? I know what you mean--in the grand scheme of life, a few days won't matter. But I think it sends the wrong message to our kids if we just let them skip school whenever something arises. It is NOT good preparation for adult life. Most jobs have a set amount of vacation days and that's it.

There is a time for work/obligations and a time for play. By making certain that SD doesn't miss unnecessary days of school, nicksmom and her husband are teaching SD the importance of fulfilling one's committments and honoring obligations.

I don't know. Maybe I am a stickler about this. I just have a real issue with people pulling kids out of school for this or that.

It's funny because this sort of came up with us last week. BM was giving me SS's school schedule for the next few months and spring break came up. He just started a cycle break today and will be off for almost 3 weeks. His school goes back on a Thursday, though. BM told me she already plans on keeping him home that Thursday and Friday because "it's silly to send him back for only two days." WHATEVER. That's totally not what I would do if it were my child. The way I look at it---vacation is over, school is back in session, end of story.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 6:27PM
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Interesting, DS6's home school is also IB. Missing days is a big deal and if she is on the Forensics team attendance is really important. Sounds like everyone agreed to a week plus why spring for an extra $300 in airfare? Maybe a compromise is to have SD visit for a long weekend right after instead of tacking on extra days to spring break which never goes over well with schools? Schools look at that and the team will not understand especially if they are eyeing going to competitions.

Maybe a 3 or even 4 day weekend, afterwards, will work it out. Good luck but be firm.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 6:52PM
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Hi Nicksmom,

I'm with JNM and most others on this one. A week is a week and you don't need to give reasons why 11 days is not good.

I don't know what the relationship with BM is and what BM's motive is. In our situation BM pushes the boundaries for the wrong reasons and therefore it's very important for us to stick to the CO to the letter.

To me it sounds like it's not a good idea and if there are issues with money than all the more reason to keep it simple. Just wondering; what if BM would buy the ticket and then DH would pay her half? Turn the tables around..

let us knwo how you go :-)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 8:40PM
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I agree with you and the others, but in reality, I'm not the one holding the cards. I am, after all (and lest we be reminded by some here), just the stepmom. It's really up to DH to get this one solved. I am happy to search for/book flights, etc. But I'll wait for the "go ahead" to book anything.

I've suggested letting BM book the last couple flights. DH doesn't like to rock the boat. Also, and I agree with this, if we let her book the flights, we are at her mercy. When SD lived w/BM, she would book her into an airport 2-3 hours from here...every single time. We have an airport 10 minutes from our house. Granted, the airfares are a bit more expensive, but still. And although it's tempting to do the same thing to BM now that SD lives here, it's really not necessary. Nevermind the fact that SD hates long drives after getting off a plane.

So, at present we have 2 options that I like:
1. Book her to and from Atlanta, allowing the 1 week visit. This will thoroughly piss her mom off, though, because she wants more time with her and she will be coming back before break is completely finished. She will still get her week, though.

2. Book her one way from Atlanta and let BM book the return flight. If we do this, SD will likely not be back home in time for her Forensics practice or volleyball conditioning. She will very likely fly SD into an airport more than 2 hours from us, and we will have no control/recourse. But BM would probably like this option better, and we'd certainly be seen as "being flexible".

The option I don't like:
Book SD's flights out of here before we leave for FL, and schedule her return for when we return. This will give her more time w/Mom, but cost us $300 more. Granted, in theory it would only be $150 more, but clearly BM cannot be counted on to send her portion of expenses.

Other ideas? I'm running out of witty repartee or ideas to give DH.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 9:52PM
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Nicksmom I understand, it's never easy is it? I would still go with option one and just book the one week. I would not let BM book the return flight, who knows what might happen and when she'll be back. Keep it simple would be my suggestion.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 10:13PM
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Trust me FD, I understand flexibility; I spend half my life 'bent.' BUT, I've learned flexibility needs to be two sided for people not to get bent out of shape. In this case it may just be 4 more days, but next come winter break she'll want 4 more, and then 4 extra days for a weekend, and so on. Flexibility is nice, but there is a reason parenting plans are set and put in writing. Flexibility only works when it's not taken advantage of.

I also agree with Nicks - family will be there. That's not saying they should be 2nd priority or set aside, but I think as parents we have to be able to take the back burner to something that is important to our kids that won't be there for life. Shouldn't SD get some say in if she wants to miss her activities for these extra 4 days with mom?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 10:33PM
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I don't get why anyone would think it's okay to miss time from school. I know it happens, but is it really the right thing to do? Education seems to be important, yet then it's okay to miss days... that's a contradiction. The only good excuse is illness or if there is a death in the family.

In my opinion, it's stupid to say it's okay because mom or dad want more time with a child. In a nuclear family, would a mom or dad keep the kid home an extra day or two or four, just because they want the extra time? I know it happens for family vacations, but that doesn't make it right. If they do it just to spend extra time with kids, then the truant officer might be visiting them soon... if it happens often enough. It should be no different in a co-parenting situation. The children are given a specific number of days out of school for vacation, that's it. What's the argument? There is a reason there is a school schedule and kids are supposed to attend a specific number of hours/days a year. When a parent thinks their 'plans' are more important... makes me wonder where their priorities are.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 2:42AM
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We are not big on missing school, either. But I know that some people don't have a problem with it. SD missed alot of school before moving here...usually due to a sore throat or cold. Our rule is you must have fever or vomiting/diarrhea to stay home. No staying home for cough, cramps, headache, etc. Tylenol, Motrin, lots to drink and off you go.

We do try to schedule long weekends for her to visit. And frequently she'll miss an extra 1/2 day. She alwyas visits on weekends when there is a scheduled day off school, etc. Recently, her mom came to see SD's theater performance (which was FABULOUS!!!). SD spent the night with her mom, spent the day with her, etc. Two weeks later, SD has a 4 day weekend (mid-winter break, I think), so we flew her down to visit. She had just spent 2 days w/Mom here, so it wasn't really "necessary", but we did it anyway. So, yes, we understand flexibility.

And we are trying to be as flexible as we can, within the guidelines of the agreement and in SD's best interests with regards to her educational and athletic/dramatic/theatrical pursuits.

Will keep you posted....

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 6:58AM
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DD was allowed 5 days missed per semester only. I don't know maybe other schools allow alot of misssed days but ours didn't and maybe other parents don't care if kids lose credits, I do not know, in DD's school if you fail a class you have to leave the school immidiatelly. If those up to 5 days were the ones she spent extra wiht dad why make big deal of it? Of course sickly children miss a lot of days so they have to watch any extra minute they miss, we didn't have that issue. DD was very mature so she knew what she can miss and what she couldn't. She knew if she screws anything up she will have to go to local public school (great district but not what she wanted). She wanted to stay at IB school so she kept good track of her missed days.

I think that being so uptight and unflexible over everything just creates more drama. In a long run it hurts the children.

As about ideas how to deal with it, I would step aside and let DH and BM talk on the phone, email, agree or disagree, book what they want etc I know it is tough to give up control especially if you know they might not book the tickets right etc. But they are the ones who are the parents and let them do what they want. I don't see why can't they be the ones to decide? If they don't know how to book tickets (the proper way like the best deals, good ground transportation etc), they need to learn. Every time SO books tickets, it is done wrong. I have been always the one booking everything. I let him do it once, he messed up (it annoyed me but I didn't say anything), but now he knows how to do it right.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 10:16AM
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