Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back From Family Vacation

Last week, Andy and I took Erika, Hilary, Aaron, Gretchen and Oat down to the New Jersey shore for five days of family bonding. We had an ideal set-up: a friend of Andy’s from work has a house in Margate that he let us use for free – plus, we miraculously found in the back of our minivan about two hundred dollars worth of two-year-old tickets to one of the amusement piers in Ocean City. All we really had to shell out money for was pizza and salt water taffy, which pretty much comprised the kids’ daily diet for the five days we were down there.

(And breakfast bars. Boy, did the kids enjoy breakfast bars every morning! Sometimes they even had two!)

This was Aaron and Gretchen’s first time at the beach – I didn’t take them last summer because I couldn’t deal with the prospect of spending the entire time scraping sand off their tongues (i.e., “Aaron, stop eating sand! Gretchen, stop eating sand! Aaron, don’t you know by now how gross that sand is!). But now that we’re successfully past that important sand-eating stage of development, I was excited to see how much the twins would love the beach.

Well . . . let’s just say they didn’t get it, not at first. Every time any part of Gretchen touched the beach, she would shriek, “Ahhh! I dirty!!!!!!!” It wasn’t until our second or third day that they were truly able to embrace the scratchy, itchy, gritty existence that is a day at the beach. After that, though, they had a great time – all the kids did. They loved the ocean, even if the water was freezing. They loved eating junk food on the Boardwalk and going on rides – boy, did they love rides. I think Aaron went on the carousel 25 or 30 times. No matter what you asked him all week – “Aaron, do you want to go to the playground?”; “Aaron, did you brush your teeth?”; “Aaron, can I have a kiss?” – the answer was always, “I want to ride the big horse!”

The kids had such a great time, in fact, that I can’t imagine taking a vacation any other place than the Jersey shore for the foreseeable future. I mean, sure, Andy and I have plans for grand family vacations – including a safari in Kenya, exploring the national parks, touring through Israel – but I can’t imagine actually embarking on an expedition like that until the twins are way less annoying – I mean, labor intensive. Until then, it seems like we can have a lot of fun while avoiding troublesome situations like long car or airplane trips and inconvenient accommodations (not too many hotel rooms sleep 7) if we just keep going down to the shore. And Jonah loves the beach and the rides even more than his brother and sisters, if that’s possible – so it really is the one vacation that’s equally appealing to all five kids.

Does this make us boring and predictable? I guess. It might even make us intolerably lowbrow – at least to our friend, Hylton, who hates the Jersey shore and all the sticky, sweaty crowds it draws. But at this point in my life – with two-year-old twins, an autistic son who is quite firm about what he likes and doesn’t like, and two other girls who are determined to claim their fair share of our attention – keeping it simple seems like the right strategy. At least for now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, just delurking to say how I can empathise with you on this point.

I've always had summer vacation at the beach, both with my parents and siblings (and cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents)and now with my own family (and my parents and siblings and their families...). Now, that's easy when you live in a tiny rectangular country, half of it linked to the continent, the other half on the ocean. But it's easy as well because it is so simple: dump the family at the beach, with a couple of snacks and sun umbrellas and let the fun begin. The kids (I only have 3, no twins, no special needs) love it and roam freely, both on the sand, the sand dunes and the water - warm, wavy-ish, safe (mix the Atlantic with the Mediterranean and that's how the Atlantic is at our shores...). They're more athletic, healthier, hungrier, tired and happier after our 3 or 4 weeks (yeah, we're lucky!) of beach immersion. And it sort of lasts the rest of the year.... Sort of. You know what I mean.

Marta from Lisbon (Portugal)