The ideal vacation involves sleeping in, luxuriously slow days, and the occasional planned activity where you experience the location you're in. One of the major appeals of vacation is the slowing of time and responsibilities, so the pieces need to all be in order.
Still, it can feel awkward and at times cruel to voice these concerns over children being present, since parents can really use vacation time themselves.
Background: I, 28F, have been going to school full time and working full time, and teaching fitness classes as a side gig for the past four years. The two years before that, I was juggling 2-3 jobs at a time to save up for school. I can count on one hand the number of small 'breaks' I've had in the last six years.
I am very tired but graduate in a few short weeks. The situation: Since my schedule is freeing up, my parents, and two older sisters decided we wanted to go on a week's vacation early next year.
We've been planning and discussing and so far it's just been the five of us. My mom called me this past weekend and said that my oldest sister wanted to invite my cousin on vacation with us and asked what I thought. I said I wouldn't be coming if she was. My cousin has a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old and she would absolutely be bringing them if she came.
I cannot imagine anything less relaxing than being on vacation with two toddlers, and as I said, I haven't been on vacation in six years. My mom said she agreed with me but was pretty neutral, but she would tell my sister that my cousin couldn't come.
Flash forward to last night and my oldest sister called and told me I was a complete a**hole for not letting my cousin come on vacation with us. She was raging. We got in a fight about it and haven't talked since. The rest of my family is staying out of it.
Parents and childless people alike were quick to weigh in with their perspectives on the situation.
Zazzog pointed out how OP's sister wrongly framed the situation:
'Flash forward to last night and my oldest sister called and told me I was a complete a**hole for not letting my cousin come on vacation with us.' Except that's not what happened. You said that if cousin and her kids came, you wouldn't be going. Two different things. Not unreasonable of you at all. NTA.
givemethc27 thinks OP should guard her peace:
NTA. It’s a vacation, not their family holiday. If she brings her kids there is no guarantee she won’t try and guilt you to watch them so she can have a break and “enjoy her vacation too.” A vacation with kids is not exactly relaxing, I don’t blame you for not wanting them there. Guard your peace.
mdthomas thinks OP set a valid boundary:
You didn't say you wouldn't let your cousin go on the vacation. You said that if she went, you wouldn't. NTA.
mishka1776 thinks OP's sister should go on a separate vacation with their cousin:
NTA. If your sister wants cousin there so bad, the two of them and the toddlers should go on vacation together and stay separately.
EbbStunning7720 is a parent and doesn't think traveling with kids counts as a vacation:
I have two children (not toddlers anymore, but still) and refer to going places with them as “trips” or “traveling”, not vacations. It’s not the same thing. And I travel with them frequently so they know how to do it, it’s just not relaxing. NTA.
Doormatjones thinks OP has her finger on the pulse of family dynamics:
NTA. You worded it right, and you know your cousin well enough to know that the kids would end up there regardless of if you requested they not come. And you seem to already suspect they're going to drop the kids on you so the cousin can get the actual vacation.
As you're closer to the situation, and given your sister's reaction...I think you hit the nail on the head. The rest of the family doesn't want to admit it when you didn't take the bait, that or the sister was the main instigator. The rest know this will blow up (as your sister seems to be a 'my way or the highway' person).
nucleartaco130 pointed out the practicalities around the situation:
NTA. There's a lot a group of adults won't be able to do if a 2 and 4-year-old come along without having to leave your cousin out of it. I have nothing about kids but 'relaxing' is not the first word that comes to mind when I think of being on vacation with them.
Flashy_Ferret_1819 has kids and completely understands:
After I got divorced some friends were going on vacation. Another family wanted in, no problem. Then another family said that sounds like fun. And so on and so forth. I got in on that as well because it was a great way to be able to take my kids (8 and 11 at the time) on a vacation where we ALL could enjoy it. The thing is 8 families, 28 people, all close friends, were up for it.
Everyone had kids. If this was an adult trip and no one else was bringing kids it would never have crossed my mind to include myself knowing I'm imposing and changing the dynamic of the trip for everyone. An adult vacation is a completely different experience than one with kids. NTA at all.
As of now, it seems people online largely are on OP's side. It's just a matter of getting through to her sister.