Once upon a time, before I lost my moral compass in a land far, far, away, I swore on a bible, under oath, that I’d never take my kids to Vegas (O.K. it wasn’t really that dramatic but I like the visual, especially because in my version of the story I have newly shellacked nails, a flowing iridescent robe with ruching in all the right places, a super-sweet spray tan, and Legolas standing by as my cabana boy witness).
Anyway, I was certain, based on past experience, that Vegas simply wasn’t a place fit for English Royalty, my grandmother Tim Tebow fans, or children. But the winds of change kicked up a ginormous tumbleweed as airfare hit a price point better known as dirt cheap and my children embarked on Fall Break, which, without some type of vacation, would end up being unbearable uneventful. So I pulled a complete about-face.
I’m a Gemini. Don’t judge me.
Everyone knows Las Vegas is the capital of glitzy-glam-glut the United States of America, and I’m all about sipping cocktails by the pool providing a well-rounded education for my offspring. Intent on showing them why they should go to college the positive side of the world’s largest, most collagen-enhanced melting pot (behind L.A.), we recently loaded up our sunscreen, sensible shoes sequins, and hand sanitizer, and hit the road.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to visit Europe to experience European bathing. Instead, you can be from like, Alabama, frolicking through the family friendly lazy river ten tequila shots down with your surgically enhanced assets bobbing in the fake surf screaming “Roll Tide Roll!” as my son, completely entranced, who’s also unfamiliar with the metric system, gets a crash course in Girls Gone Wild 101 anatomy and physiology.
As a parent, I’ve used technology as a babysitter more than I’ll ever admit diligently taught my children the value of proper etiquette. So when a fellow tourist (possibly European but thankfully not nude), boxes your children out with her fanny pack and blocks their view of the Bellagio fountains because she’s using her nifty new iPad as a camera? Get all up in her face, step away from the safety rail and let her memorialize her future Barcalounger programming options trip in peace.
Most parents don’t know this, but it’s not the casinos, international tour buses, or third row of a minivan taxi cab wave pools you need to steer clear of when you’re in Vegas with children. It’s actually the M&Ms store. That place will make you throw up in your mouth rob you blind as you quickly check your phone for the over/under on the Monday night game, sprint across the street to the Luxor to place a fairly sort of smallish bet, and return in time to discover that each of your kids has figured out how to personally monogram a container of candy that you can buy at Walmart for $1.97 each.
Your penchant for five-finger discounts fight or flight instinct will immediately kick in as you weigh the odds of being caught stuffing three pounds of candy down your shirt. Since the store is wired with a security camera every two feet you’re a good, moral person, you instead spend the night’s blackjack money on candy that you’ll regift as Christmas presents to elderly relatives who haven’t yet had cataract surgery let your kids have, in limited amounts so that it will last the rest of their lives (which are now considerably shorter), when you get home.
So take it from me, a trip with the family to Las Vegas is something I’ll never do again much more than just a vacation. It’s an international experience of love, hope and harmony filled with opportunities to blow their 529 savings sky-high teach them about world culture, etiquette, ethics, and that those things being handed out on the sidewalk looking a lot like baseball trading cards? Not so much.
P.S. “Thunder From Down Under” is not a show about variable weather patterns in the New South Wales/Victoria region of Australia.
P.S.S. We watched the second presidential debate with the kids while we were in Vegas, because it’s illegal to leave them alone in the hotel room to hit the craps table I believe in a well-rounded political education. In case you’re wondering, I can assure you that the term “binders full of women” has a completely different meaning in Las Vegas than in American politics. I think.
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