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It’s that time of year when we make the trek to the Atlantic to sink our chairs in the sand and soak our feet in the salt water. One would think after being married for almost 30 years that we would have settled into some sort of routine when it comes to preparing to leave for a few days. I guess in reality we have. The hubby finds more projects to undertake in the weeks leading up to vacation, and I procrastinate packing until the last
minute. So on the night before we are scheduled to leave for our week of sun, sand and silliness, my hubby is replacing the floor in the sunroom while I am rummaging through closets looking for last year’s bathing suits. I holler over the noise of his various pieces of power equipment, “Hey! You got anything in particular you want me to pack for you?” To which he hollers back, “Were you talking to me?” There is nothing like routine.
Now that we have Grand-brats added to our multi-generational family adventures, I find myself having flashbacks to when our children were small. I think the squeals and shouts have increased in volume since we had children. I totally understand why some folks will not consider hearing aids when they obviously need them. No good can come from amplifying those sounds. The only difference in traveling with our small children twenty-five years ago and our precious Grand-brats is their proximity to us in the car. Our kids survived riding unrestrained in the back of a pick-up with a camper shell covering their heads and two layers of automotive glass between us to muffle their screaming arguments—I mean squeals of delight. Now, we travel with restrained children who both sit next to a window and can complain he is not sitting next to the RIGHT window. Their only saving grace is that I’m also restrained. When my daughter purchased a van with a built-in DVD player as an added feature, I thought, “What a waste of money. We will never use that.” Now I’m looking for the extended version of “Gone with the Wind.”
In my mind I fantasize coming home with a ridiculously dark tan, well read and well fed. In reality, I usually get the latter of the three. My kids like to tell me my tan is already ridiculous. If I’m lucky I may get enough sun to slightly obscure my sock line and blend in the perpetual farmer’s tan that I keep on my left arm. The right arm stays so far behind the left in the tan department, there’s no hope of my body being a similar shade. I look at pictures from vacations past and am reminded of my ridiculous tan when I had on a bathing suit that I thought was awesome. It fit well, accentuated the positives and minimized the negatives—then I saw my tan. I was painfully white from my shoulder to mid-bicep and from my hip to my Bermuda shorts line, tan from the knee to the sock line and glowing white below the sock line. And that was just on my left side. The right side wasn’t much better but the contrast wasn’t as severe. When my children showed me the picture they had taken, I was appalled that no one had pointed out my ridiculous tan. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I cried. Their response? “That’s how we find you on a crowded beach, Mom!”
This family time is also where I try to perfect the race to the coffee maker. My Dad meticulously measures out heaping tablespoon by heaping tablespoon of coffee that goes into the coffeemaker while I grab the closest measuring cup—it doesn’t matter the size—and scoop out coffee to dump into the coffeemaker. My mom complains that my coffee is too strong and I complain that hers is too weak. So over the years we have come to a silent agreement that the first one to get up makes the coffee. I notice that Mom and Dad have started walking at 4:00 in the morning now, but what they don’t realize is that this year I’ve switched to drinking hot tea.
We learn a lot about each other on vacation— just enough to want to do this only once a year with enough time in between to want to do it again next year.