Spring Break Trilogy: Part II, The Beach

Day 4: Tuesday

Tuesday morning we packed and then drove the full car to the kids’ dentist. June was very brave and co-operative, though she had so much trouble with the bite wings that the dentist, having found no signs of cavities, decided to skip her x-rays. June got a bag of toys, a Dora sticker that said, “No cavities! ¡Ni una caries!” and had her nailed painted by one of the hygienists. She chose five different shades of pink and purple. Over the past several days I keep catching unexpected, startling glances of her painted nails. They make her look older, still like a little girl, but like the next step up in the category of little girl, if that makes sense.

Noah had two cavities in baby teeth that are about to come out, so no treatment was necessary. From his x-rays, the dentist predicted he’d be losing the last of his baby teeth soon and all at once. She gave us the cards of three orthodontists. I can’t believe it’s time to start thinking about orthodontia, but apparently it is. He got some trinkets, too, and declined the manicure.

Then we were off to the beach. We listened to Series of Unfortunate Events #10 (The Slippery Slope) while June was asleep and some Magic Tree House books while she was awake. We arrived in Rehoboth around dinnertime and went out for Mexican. The food was good but we may never be able to go back to this restaurant because in a distracted moment when both kids and the waiter were all asking me something at once, I called the waiter “sweetie.” Somehow I managed not to die of embarrassment on the spot.

We went back to our hotels, bathed the kids and put them to bed and I slipped down to the beach. It was cool enough that I needed a jacket but not so cold that I felt I needed to keep moving so as not to freeze, so I sat on the beach and watched the ocean hurl itself onto the shore.

Day 5: Wednesday

Wednesday was gorgeous, like an early summer’s day plopped down into the middle of April. It got up into the mid-80s according to the digital clock/thermometer on Rehoboth Avenue.

We ate breakfast on the boardwalk. Afterwards Noah took a scooter ride all the way down to the South end of the boardwalk while June and I played on the beach. She drew a unicorn in the sand with the edge of a shell and dug a hole, looking for dinosaur bones. Not finding any, she decided to bury a cache of seashells, as treasure for someone else to find. When she’d filled in the hole, she marked it with an X.

We found a big pool of water that had formed in a depression in the sand and soon she was wading and splashing in it. She was bare legged, but soon her skirt and underwear were uncomfortably wet and she wanted to leave the beach. I suggested she get changed into her bathing suit. She was surprised but pleased by this idea. Her bathing suit? Outside? In spring? It was lucky the hotel had a pool because otherwise we would not have even brought bathing suits.

Noah joined us on the beach just as we were getting ready to go back to the room to change so he got changed, too, and we spent the rest of the morning on the beach making castles, wading and running around like maniacs (well, that last one was just the kids). The warmth and the sunlight were intoxicating, as they always are the first day spring shows you a foretaste of summer.

After lunch, June napped in the hotel room while I worked on a project I’m doing for Sara, rewriting and simplifying medical abstracts. This set was about a compound found in tea that has relaxing properties. It took June a long while to fall asleep (she’s used to being alone when she naps) and she was chatty, but about ten minutes before I was about to give up my work plan for lost, I realized she’d been quiet for a couple minutes and sure enough, she was asleep. When she woke, Beth took both kids to the pool while I continued to work. Then Beth took June to pick up some Chinese takeout while I read the last two chapters of The Sea of Monsters to Noah. They were gone a while, so he had time to practice percussion as well. (He has a practice pad so it’s not as loud as you might think.) Beth and I ate in the room and the kids ate on the balcony and then we took a stroll on the boardwalk.

It was still warm, in the low 80s. We ended up sitting on a bench, most of us bare legged, eating frozen custard and watching the sky grow pinker and pinker. June kept pointing to different parts of the sky, indicating which was the “most beautifulest.” Finally she said, “I don’t think anything in the world could be more beautiful than this.” I had to agree.

I went to the beach after the kids were bathed and in bed. It was hopping down there, full of kids with parents less strict about bedtime than we are. I remembered being nine years old, in bed on summer nights, listening to the shouts of the visiting children of our tenant, a divorced father. They were playing in my yard when I had to be in bed. It was almost unbearable. My nine-year-old self chided me for putting the kids to bed on time, but I ignored her.

I found a place near the water, away from the crowds, where the sand was comfortably inclined and sat down with my back leaning against it. The sand was cool but not cold, the waves roared, I could see the Big Dipper, or maybe it was the Little Dipper. I’m not good with constellations. I felt profoundly at home.

Day 6: Thursday

Temperatures were more seasonable Thursday but it was still sunny and beautiful. After breakfast we flew kites on the beach, and then Beth had a massage while June and I took a walk to the North end of the boardwalk and Noah stayed in the room and practiced percussion again. When June and I came back, we ate Mexican and Chinese leftovers and played our second game of checkers of the day. We’d had a surprisingly close match at breakfast but now she was tired and even with advice from Noah, she was not playing as well. When I had eight of her pieces and she only had four of mine, she declared, “This game is boring.”

After Beth got home and had her lunch, she and Noah left so June could nap and I could work. This time June fell asleep almost at once, but I ran into technical difficulties with the PC and had to call Beth to come back and help me so I lost more than half of June’s (fortunately long) nap. I scaled my goal in half and finished while Beth and the kids swam in the pool again.

I read the first chapter of The Titan’s Curse to Noah while June had her bath and after Noah’s bath, we left for dinner. Then we came home, read some more, and put the kids to bed. I resisted the urge to hit the beach and did two more abstracts before bed.

Day 7: Friday

By Friday morning it was downright cold, 46 degrees and overcast at 8:05 when June and I went out in search of breakfast. Noah had been in bed absorbed in Car and Driver when June was ready to go so we’d decided to split up. We went to a coffee shop and played three rounds of Hex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hex_(board_game) while she ate her bagel and I ate my oatmeal. It was the first time she’d ever played but she won one round. We were supposed to meet Beth and Noah on the boardwalk at nine, but when I called Beth she said Noah was still reading and still in his pajamas. June was not warmly dressed so we went back to the room. Noah had finished reading and had decided he wanted pancakes. Beth just wanted a muffin and some coffee so we agreed to switch kids and I took Noah out to breakfast at a diner.

Since I didn’t need to eat, I read to him while he ate. We’d agreed to try to read together every day during Noah’s break and we’re now making much more rapid progress than we had been through the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Jackson_%26_the_Olympians)
Noah received for Christmas. It’s been satisfying and fun. At first Noah was concerned I was reading too loudly and that it might bother the other patrons. So he joined me on my side of the table and snuggled up next to me while I read more softly and he ate his chocolate-chip pancakes. He’d been self-conscious enough to worry about being read to in public but not too self-conscious to put his head on my shoulder. He’s a very young almost ten in some ways, but I can’t say I mind.

Because we ate breakfast in shifts, it was ten-thirty by the time we’d finished, so we hit Candy Kitchen for some treats to take home before going back to the hotel to pack in time for the eleven o’clock checkout. (Well, Beth and I packed while the kids played on the luggage cart.)

The whole time we were in Rehoboth, June had been seeing toys she wanted, a set of four mermaid dolls with different colored hair you could comb and brush, a stuffed pony, and a purple unicorn beanie baby with a sparkly pink horn and hooves and disturbingly large eyes. The last two were at Candy Kitchen and while we were in there she renewed her appeals. After I’d said no, and after she’d given up saying, “But pleeeaaase,” I spied her kneeling on the floor, silently petting the little unicorn. That did me in. I decided to go back later and get it for her Easter basket.

Earlier in the trip we’d noticed a newly opened bakery that allows kids to decorate their own cupcakes and we’d promised to go back. As the beach trip was practically over we were running out of time for this activity so we went over there and watched as the kids arranged sprinkles and M&Ms and lollipops on a frosted cupcake. Then we had them boxed up for later and left. Now that we had enough sugar to last until the Second Coming, we were just about ready to leave the beach.

Beth took the kids while I snuck back to Candy Kitchen, bought the unicorn, pulled on my boots so I could wade in the ocean I and had my last ten minutes on the beach until August. It was lunchtime by then but no one was all that hungry, so we just got smoothies and hit the road. All the way home, I tried not to think about how very long a time four months was seeming. But luckily, the beach is always here, patiently waiting for us to return.