Our Getaway in a Dead Zone

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Like Madeline’s youngest daughter in Big Little Lies, our threenager, Tillie, is the unofficial family DJ. On our recent getaway she honed her skills and played a mix of “mommy,” “daddy,” and “kid music” during our car ride.

We drove through the winding and narrowing mountain roads, climbing further away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Our destination? The Catskills.

About an hour before arriving we heard a shriek from the backseat, “My music! I can’t hear it!” This was Tillie’s first time experiencing spotty Wi-Fi. She could only hear partial lyrics to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off, and she was not happy.

For our getaway, my husband requested wilderness and no Wi-Fi. So we booked a remote cabin in a dead zone. But, judging by Tillie’s tantrum from lack of Wi-Fi on the car ride, our plan to unplug for 48 hours was not going to bode well.

As the song flittered between static and music we were all on edge. My image of solitude and family bonding grew fainter with every cry for clearer reception.

I wasn’t sure if we’d make it without the internet.

Tillie was unhinged. And she’s our baby. How would our older two, ages 7 and 5, get by with no devices?

We slowly, cautiously, rolled up the gravel path to our remote destination. And there we were.

The expanse of tall, lush grass surrounding the log cabin, and the dense forest beyond enveloped the kids. They bolted out of the car and practically embraced the trees. For the next two days our kids didn’t mention their devices. They virtually forgot all about them.

Uninhibited by confining screens, they explored.

We hiked through the deep woods, stopping only to collect smooth stones and slingshot-shaped sticks. We felt the damp from the shaded forest on our cheeks. Our eyes feasted on the vibrant green moss covering the fallen tree trunks.

At night we watched the fireflies. Mesmerized by their flickering light, we tried to catch them. Smoke from the campfire swirled in the air. Animals rustled branches in the thick forest. The sound of nature was louder than any silent night in the city.

The kids did finally come inside to scope out the cabin, jump on the beds, and claim their rooms. And for one fleeting moment they mentioned that there was no TV.

But that was all.

Like a firefly’s extinguishing light, they forgot about the TV and ran back outside.

When darkness was too thick for exploring, we played cards by the warm campfire light. We read stories on the porch overlooking the vast meadow. The rocking chairs made the wide, wooden floorboards creak, and it echoed across the valley. Together we cooked hot dogs and beans over an open fire.

Disconnecting from the world brought us closer to the earth and closer to each other.

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