Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mom and Dad: At Our House and In Our Car

There’s nothing quite like my mom and my dad in my house. A mom and a dad bustling around in my kitchen, dressing the boys, playing with the boys, reading to the boys, fixing, cleaning, watching baseball, you name it. What a nice two weeks we had with my parents! Now that my dad retired my parents can stay longer when they come to visit so this was their first two week trip and it was a smashing success. We took two weekend trips, one to my in-laws’ lake house and the second one to a beach house in Ocean City, New Jersey to connect with my Dad’s sisters and their families. Other than those weekend trips we spent quality time pushing the stroller around (okay, mostly Dad pushed the stroller) our neighborhood and laughing a lot. We even got away without Mom and Dad renting a car, thanks to Aaron and Brian swapping cars for road trips and Mom and Dad’s courageous agility on the metro and bus system.

The boys get some quality Papa time.

I’m not sure if there’s an age where this stops happening, but I kind of feel like I just revert to Young Dawn when I’m around my parents. The first few days I had meals all planned out. I made them with little help. They were good. The floor was clean. The bathroom was clean. I had a handle on the laundry. And then it all kind of blurred. We figured it out as we went, and everything turned out fine, but I felt more like Young Dawn—content to let things happen around me and not be involved. Not that I’m complaining—it was fantastic. There are places clean in my kitchen now that I didn’t even know existed thanks to Mom’s dexterous scrubbing moves. And man, was it ever nice not to have to push those growing, squirming boys all over in the stroller. I’m so much lighter when I’m not pushing 60 pounds of boy, 10 pounds of stroller, and several pounds of groceries or snacks or wipes! Astounding! Such a nice break. The day before Mom and Dad left I woke up after 8am to find the boys fully dressed, their beds made, and breakfast started. 

Grandma and Clark at the lake
A few of the days Mom and Dad spent in DC in an apartment that my aunt and uncle have, because they were out of town. They did some touristy things in the city and spent a little time sleeping NOT on our couch. Granted, those of you who know our luxurious couch know that it is actually a privilege and honor to sleep on it, however, since there are no private walls around our couch, it is therein that the occasional inconveniences might occur for those people accustomed to privacy in their sleeping quarters. My parents were troopers. I suppose after having four kids in a small house they aren't used to much privacy either.

And now about those two long road trips with two year-olds that we took for two consecutive weekends. They were long. The one to southern Virginia was on smaller roads with more traffic lights and thus a longer trip overall. The one north to New Jersey was all on big highways (read $47 in tolls) and seemed easier in part because we left at bedtime on a Friday night and drove home at naptime on Sunday. Clark and Cal did a good job of not going crazy in their carseats. Sometimes I try to imagine what it must be like to have to be in a kids’ carseat all strapped to the plastic and heavy fabric and not exactly understanding why and it makes me almost claustrophobic and I have to claw for air. I know. I have such a talented imagination. I get that a lot. 

The lake trip was nice and we made it a long weekend, driving down Friday morning and coming back Monday evening. But the New Jersey one was insanely short and left us all sleep deprived. We got there at about 11:30pm to Ocean City and were greeted by dearly loved relatives, some of whom we hadn’t seen for a long time. The boys had only met a couple of them, so they were a little frightened, plus it was late at night and they had just woken up, plus it was a new house. They screamed like little shrews (do shrews scream?) for the first five minutes they were there. In order to calm them down, my well-meaning aunts and cousins offered them ice cream (refer back to time of night) and cookies, which of course the little pajama-ed screamers greedily accepted. Soon they were in Great Aunt Jane and Great Uncle Jeff’s arms looking for ceiling fans, but settling for turning on and off some unusual light fixtures. Finally around 2am we settled down in a room with two bunk beds and a trundle bed. Cal must not have eaten as much sugar as Clark did because it was clear pretty quickly that he was ready to sleep. Not Clark. He was SO EXCITED to be sleeping sitting on the bottom bunk! He was in that mood where he was cheery about everything and on top of that he wanted to repeat everything I said. I explained to him that everyone else in the house wanted to sleep. Everyone was so tired! It was not nice to be loud and keep other people awake when they wanted to sleep! In fact, it was mean. These types of things I whisper-spit to him in my hot, exhausted rage, from the bottom of the other bunk bed as he sat up and lay down and called his Scratchy Cat his little sister and told me he had eaten ice cream with chocolate (no, really?) and that he liked the blue lights and that we were at the beach and that tomorrow it would be light and we would see the ocean. Then I would whisper-yell at him. “Clark! You are being mean! Everyone here wants to sleep and you are talking loudly. You need to lie down! You need to go to sleep. Calvin wants to sleep and I want to sleep too, but you are being too loud!” To that he would cheerily and loudly respond, “I am being mean! Everyone here wants to sleep and I’m talking loudly. I need to sleep! Calvin wants to sleep but I’m being too loud.”

Finally sometime around 3am he stopped talking and my boiling rage died down enough to fall asleep as well…until 8am when the ocean sun poked in the blinds and somehow Clark was up in a flash to see the cool light fixtures, oh, and the beach.
Since I forgot buckets and shovels the boys played with cups and spoons...

...until the cup blew away and Uncle A was called on to sprint to the rescue.

And Uncle A did not disappoint.

Despite the ocean part of our trip being so short, it went (with the exception of the early-morning whisper-spitting match)well and it was nice to see our relatives. The boys enjoyed the beach, specifically the salt water taffy and sand, and a specific jewelry store they found on the boardwalk. The jewelry store had all the expected jewelry store paraphernalia: jewelry, glass display cases, and middle-aged women covered in makeup and jewelry. What the bejeweled women had that they didn’t realize the value of, however, was their ceiling fans. They were unusual—without lights—and their blades looked like palm leaves. Cal did not want to leave. He went in and started talking to Lois about her fans. She was in love with him immediately and called over Nancy and Brenda and Wilma in their various shades of bright lipstick and dangling bracelets and popping chewing gum to fawn over Cal as he fawned over the fans. Eventually I mentioned to Cal that we needed to keep going and find his brother, which is when Nancy swooned that he had a twin brother and so some of us combined to herd Clark into the jewelry store and we all stayed there for quite some time. We had to promise to visit the women on the way back down the boardwalk and say goodbye and about an hour later we did, much to their relief. They were afraid we had forgotten. The boys yelled out, “Goodbye Fans!” as they left the store. The women were lined up in front madly waving back. Yep, they were fans. 
Finally leaving the jewelry store...Ocean City boardwalk at dusk

After our beach trip we got back home soon enough to celebrate Brian's birthday at his parents' house complete with a lot of important, post-carseat, pre-bedtime backyard playing. 

So, overall it’s been a successful and fun past two weeks. My parents are now gone, which means I have to do annoying grown-up things like make meals and change diapers again, but the trip was a great break in many ways and a wonderful chance for the boys to spend time with their grandparents whom they normally only get to interact with via Skype. We had fun with them at our house and in our car and everywhere in between. I'm currently trying to decide what next to look forward to in my life. I think it might be to the Halloween costumes I'm making for the boys. 

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