P.S. When in Rome, find the GOOD beach

It's only fair to report that just three days after my beach grumpiness, our awesome friend Lori invited us to her town beach for the day.  There were tidal pools and rocks for climbing.  There was a broad sandy swath for digging.  The water was frigid (I got an ice cream headache in my ankles while wading), but Rosie didn't mind one bit.  Buzzy collected sea glass and crustaceans, and ran in a pack of new and old pals.  Most importantly: Lori came prepared with a half-tent to provide shade and to block the wind.  Life changing. 

Too bad her beach has a waiting list rumored to be six years long for non-residents.  Regardless, I put my name on it.  In the mean time, I'm buying a tent--and sticking close to my wicked cool friends who may be the real secret to enjoying this beach business after all. 

True Confession

A distant relative on my husband's side, upon meeting me for the first time, said, "Oh, but you don't like the beach, do you?"  I bristled.  Who, exactly, had said what, exactly?  "I like the beach just fine!"  I said.  "I admit that taking care of small children on the beach isn't my favorite past time, but I like it." 

Since then, I've had something to prove to myself, if no one else.  So when this June morning dawned sparkling and perfect, I embraced my inner New Englander and declared we were off to wade and explore at the beach.  I packed (oh, how I packed) the sunscreen, the water bottles, the blueberries, the blankets, the nets, the buckets, the chairs, the shovels, the bug spray.  Even a magazine!  For me!  Oh, the optimism!  I envisioned a rocky shoreline, tidal pools, and exploring marine life while collecting shells and seaglass.

Greg drove to the beach and even found a great parking spot.  We got out of the car.  Our happy chatter promptly sailed away on sharp gust of wind.  Hmm.  We unpacked the car, schlepped our things to the high water mark, and set up camp.  The sun was no match for the wind.  It was downright cold.  But I gritted my teeth.  Time for FUN.  I looked around.  We were on a honky-tonk strip.  There were no tidal pools.  There was no seaglass.  There were, however, seabeercans littering the sand close to where four swimmers were frolicking in cut off jeans.  I'm pretty sure they were drunk.

No matter what I bring to the beach up here, it's never the right thing.  Buzzy and Rosie asked for jackets, but who packs jackets on a June afternoon?  Soon, Rosie started screaming that there was sand in her eye.  We repaired to the car, where I doused her face with the water bottles until she stopped crying.  "It's warm in the car, Mommy," she said, happily settling into her car seat with nothing to do.  "Back to the beach, honey!"  I said brightly.  "Let's go finish your sand kingdom!"  I delivered the child to her father and tried to read but the wind whipped my magazine pages closed. 

 After 20 minutes of pretending to have hale and hearty fun, I left my New England family on the sand and went to bask in the car.  Buzzy and Rosie lasted another 20 minutes.  Then Greg appeared and asked for my help packing things up.

"Why do you bring me to the worst examples of New England?" I demanded later. "Why aren't you trying to showcase this area's best features?  You are setting me up to fail."

"What?"  Greg said, totally ambushed.  "We had fun!  It wasn't that chilly!  You had fun at the beach, didn't you?" 

I still don't know who said what about me to that distant relative.  But whomever she was, I wish I'd believed her. 

Sweet Spot Summer

It struck me while perusing the Buy Buy Baby registry for Greg's cousin.  I don't have wee ones any more.  Bottle-drying racks?  No need.  Crib sheets?  Breast milk bags?  All done.  (Apparently, not all done with Baby Signs, though.  The phrases "all done" and "more" still trigger hand motions I'll probably be using to wave away the nursing home aides.)

It's odd: this blog was born a couple of days before I became a mom.  I think I was trying to process my new identity... first a mom of an infant, then a toddler, then a mother of two little ones.  Always little ones.  I kept Goldfish in my purse; I could fold and load a double stroller in record time.  Eventually, I stopped writing my own mother's name on the forms asking for "Mother's Name".  Once I hit my stride, I milked their young childhoods as long as possible.  We kept Buzzy in a private Kindergarten associated with her preschool, so I didn't even have to send her off on a bus last fall.  But the gig's up.  She's off to first grade in September, and even Rosie is finally out of diapers and headed to pre-K (unless she ends up in juvie first--a distinct possibility and one she might even prefer).

Parenting a four- and a six- year old is right up my ally.  I can usually hold someone's hand.  We can read picture books.  But I've stopped carrying Goldfish in my bag and they can get the food from their plates into their own mouths, usually.  I can leave them in the shower for three fifteen minutes while I check Twitter dinner.  They're still not crazy busy with too many activities, so we have some flexibility and the ability to take advantage of it.  It's a good place, albeit fleeting.  Narrowing in are discussions about cliques, technology, and safety issues that go far beyond the tornado drills of my elementary school years.  Ducking and covering the backs of their necks with a Social Studies book isn't going to get either of my girls very far.  So, I'm going to try to savor this summer with my little big girls while they enjoy buckets, pails, bubbles, story hour at the library, and even the once-dreaded princesses.

Just remind me I said that in August.

Happy Birthday Baby

Rosie turns FOUR today.  Impossibly fast, yet it seems she's always been part of my life.  She's the sweetest, cuddliest, most generous contrarian in the world.  Unfailingly polite, she says "thank you, mommy" in her tiny voice whenever I bring her anything, but she's unfailingly and infuriatingly stubborn, too.  Her little body is so tightly wound.  She springs and jumps and dances like a bolt of electricity runs through her body.  She cannot fall asleep at night, and asks me to sit with her 'for five minutes', then grabs my hand and won't let go when her time is up.  She still twirls her hair and sucks her thumb to relax, and she still grabs me around the neck in a forwards full-Nelson and brings my check down to press against her cheek when I tuck her in.

Her memory stuns and confuses me.  If I ask her what she did in school, she'll brush me off with an airy, "I don't remember" but then she'll recite a scene from two years ago, from our old DC life, accurate down to describing the floor boards.  She's resistant to change: her school installed a brand-new playground over the summer, but she still pouts, "I like the old one" that she played on when we picked up Buzzy. 

Animals and babies are her friends.  The cousins closest to her age are all big sisters now, and she asks me why I'm not getting "a 'nudder one baby in my tummy?"  She wants to be big and masterful, often pretending to be the big sister or mommy.  I still get to be the queen, though.  "Thank you, your minus" she says to be silly. 

She's always had a gleam in her eye.  Lately she's been leaning into it with an eagerness to explore that wasn't there even a couple of months ago.  Rosie started school this fall, and is growing more independent every day.  She loves to dress up, put on her 'lipstick' -- Chapstick, sunscreen or marker, whatever she can find.  The more jewelry the better.  She's a bit of a dare devil (so long as slides aren't involved--she isn't a big fan of slides, mostly because of the static electricity shock that accompanied most of her earliest experiences on them).  She defiantly tells me, "I like bad guys, mama."  Oh, dear one.  No, no, no!  Please stay far away from all bad boys, bad guys, bad everything.  She always wants a hit of Motrin, enjoys caviar, loves fizzy water, and generally has me worried about her adolescence already.

Last night, I tucked her in and said, "Good night, baby.  I guess I can't call you that anymore.  You're four!  You're getting so big!"  And she said, "You can still call me baby." 

She has my heart.  Happy Birthday, baby.