Kids On Vacation

A Colleary Christmas –  2009

(Yes that stream behind us is horse piss.)

Cast of Characters:

S – Shannon (44): Fairly well-preserved wife/mother/writer/controversial AYSO soccer referee and pseudo intellectual. Prone to occasional bouts of grandiosity.

H – Henry (49): Almost as well-preserved-if-he’d-just-exfoliate husband/father/writer/Lord of Darkness and daughters’ luchadore nemesis. Prone to occasional bouts of staring wistfully into the middle distance.

C – Clare (7): Young Anakin Skywalker in a girl’s body. Constantly testing the limits of her Masters’ patience/willful Padowan/fearsome light-saber dueler and refuser of compliments (especially regarding her beauty; which holds no merit with a Jedi Knight). Also an expert on knowing whether a rock is sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous. Prone to bouts of outrage.

B – Bridget (5): Storyteller/dream weaver/lover of men (that’s you Miles, get rid of that McKenna if you want to reach puberty), prancer/dancer/and vixen. Prone to bouts of self-adoration.

Setting: 200-square foot breakfast nook where the family eats breakfast, lunch and dinner, often accompanied by their blind, hobbled, deaf, 15-year old dog, Shelby, who is prone to bouts of incontinence, but still able to slide a lamb chop off Bridget’s plate without detection.


The lights come up on tonight’s meal. The children eat with begrimed fingers, Henry swills “his green tea,” (a stimulant) and Shannon “her wine,” (an opiate). Underneath the table Shelby waits. Her lust for red meat unquenched. Her desire implacable.

Shannon: Okay, okay, okay guys, focus. I’ve gotta write something about what we did this year in a Christmas letter.

Henry: Clare, honey, don’t play with your chicken.

Clare: Bridget’s not eating her chicken.

Bridget: Yes, I am!

Clare: She’s not, daddy. She gave it to Shelby.

Henry: We’re not talking about Bridget.

Bridget: Yeah, Clare, we’re not talking about me.

Clare: Great. That’s just great. I’m always the one who gets the consequences!

Henry: (confused) What are you? … I never gave you a conseque …

Shannon: Guys, guys, come on! So okay, I’ll write about our trip to Ireland and London since that’s the best thing we did this year. Girls, what was your favorite place we stayed on our trip?

Clare sticks a wad of chicken in her mouth, chews, thinking. Shelby watches the meat poking out of Clare’s mouth. Will it drop?

Bridget: This is kind of boring, I want to talk about what Miles said when I asked him to marry me.

Shannon: We’re just going to talk about the trip for a minute, okay? So did you like the little cottage in Sligo, with the grassy path to the craggy beach, and the ivy crawling all over the manor home? Or maybe the little hotel in Ballyliffin where we met all of granny’s first cousins …?

Bridget: I have three cousins in Ireland.

Shannon: That’s right, honey, you do.

Bridget: The boy one in Dublin was mean!

Shannon: He was three!

Clare: I hated all the eating at restaurants. And the cemeteries.

Shannon: You liked the cemeteries! You made us stop at the cemeteries …

Clare: (outraged) But, we went to a million cemeteries!

Shannon: Your ancestors were buried there!Bridget: Did you know lots of good words start with a “B?”  Beautiful. Bedazzled …

Henry: Bridget!

Clare: Butthead.

Bridget: Booger face!

Shannon: Okay, okay now.  Let’s refocus. So did you like the B&B in Dublin where you girls got your own bathroom? Or maybe our basement flat in London?

Bridget: I liked the airport hotel.

Clare: Yeah, that was my favorite.

Shannon: Your favorite hotel was the Sheraton Skyline hotel at Heathrow?

Clare: It had a swimming pool!

Bridget: And room service! I looove room service! Holla!

Shannon: Okay, but what was your favorite thing that we did? Seeing the duel at the Tower of London? (to husband) A little help here, please. What else did we do?

Henry: Oh, yeah, yeah.  Umm …

Shannon: (impatient) Going up in the London Eye and seeing the entire city at sunset? Having a light saber battle at Parks Castle? Or the birds-of-prey show, with the bald eagle? Horseback riding on the Sligo beach?Clare’s horse was Lady, Bridget’s was Leprechaun, daddy’s was Jippy and mommy’s was Lollipop.

Clare: Yeah, that stuff was okay.

Bridget: That whole place smelled like poop. I liked it when we went to McDonald’s!

Clare: And when we had Clare-and-Bridget Day and we got to go see a movie.

Henry: Bandslam wasn’t bad.

Bridget: Gabriella from High School Musical was in it!

Shannon: (to husband) We could have stayed home and surfed the Disney channel while cramming down Happy Meals.

Henry: Honey, turn around and crawl toward the light.

Clare: I liked the Coke we got on the airplane.

Bridget: And they gave us the can!

Henry: Mommy loved going to the Boden store.

Shannon: (remembering) The Mother Ship.

Clare: And mommy you said a lot of bad words on the trip.

Shannon: I did not!

Clare: You still owe me a dollar and fifty cents!

Shannon: All I said was “Arse” and that’s not a bad word.

Clare: It means “ass” in Ireland.

Henry: Stop giggling Bridget.

Shannon: What was your favorite memory, Henry?

Henry: Whatever yours is, honey.

Shannon: And they say women are smarter than men.

Henry: Yes, dear.

Bridget: Did you know lots of good words start with the “F” word?

Clare: Oh my gosh, Bridget! Mommy, give her a consequence!

Shannon: I think she means the letter F, not the F word.

Bridget: Holla!

Henry: I know some words that start with “F.” Friend. Friday.

Clare: Fart!

Bridget: Family.

And just like that. Magic. The characters freeze, and we hold on this tableau of communion. Shelby, however, remains mobile. As she pillages the dinner table unmolested, the lights dim and finally we …


4 thoughts on “Kids On Vacation”

  1. rfoster-faith

    When I pick my son up from school, I always ask what his favorite part of school was that day and he cant tell me. It was only 3 minutes ago!!

  2. Shannon Bradley-Colleary

    @rfoster-faith — I think they hear us the way Snoopy used to hear things…mwamwamwamwamwamwa ice cream mwamwamwamwamwa iCarly mwamwamwamwamwa if you bug me enough I'll buy you an iTouch…

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