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Posts Tagged ‘Cape Cod’

Dennisport, MA

Our Cape Cod vacation 2010 has come and gone with all its lovely weather, salted ocean breezes, not one single smashed window, and a safe trip home.

Everything in between was chaos, sunburn, exhaustion, two major Jonah meltdowns, the ocean, swim pool, hot dog stands, and as much quiet time as we could get away with.

Meltdown #1 took place before we were even halfway there, at a rest stop, eating McD’s among the tables full of weary, road-worn travelers.  We could tell Jonah was getting agitated and we could almost visibly see the gears in his head trying to keep it together. Andy said to me, “you realize he’s about to have a freak-out and –” before he could utter another word Jonah launched himself at Andy, ripping his glasses off and throwing them skidding across the floor, one lens popping out completely.  Then the scratching, the screaming, the kicking.  Andy held him and wrestled him, wailing and crying, outside as quickly as possible while I avoided the gaze of the staring masses and hunted down scattered twisted pieces of my husband’s eye-wear.

Not an auspicious beginning.

We only stay at the Cape for three nights because it is all we can stand.  I spent most of the vacation fantasizing of Maria Von Trapp entering stage-left, singing of schnitzel with noodles, eager to care for my cherub so I can crouch on the beach and create pictures from shells, stones, and seaweed – all while gulping coffee, lullaby-ed by the waves, smiling into the sunshine.   I celebrated a birthday while I was there, making a wish to help transform my deliciously selfish fantasy into reality, but to no avail.  How do you solve a problem like (the distressing lack of) Maria?

You play pass the Jonah, that’s how.  So one morning I let Andy sleep in while I made breakfast and took Jonah down to walk the jetty — one of his favorite beach activities – ignoring the judgmental senior citizen couples screaming at me with their stares:  how can you let that poor little boy run barefoot on those treacherous rocks?

– and the next day Andy took Jonah for an early-morning trip to the playground so I could make some pictures in the sand after all.

But in between the brief periods of sun-lemon lit beach silence or a cushion-y extra hour’s sleep, Jonah challenged every inch of our patience.  He stomped around the room.  He shouted poopy in the potty! out the screen door overlooking the pool.  He begged repeatedly for wants:  cookie?  cookie? cookie? cookie? cookie? cookie? He was nearly always too loud.  He repeatedly refused undesired activities:  no brush teeth?!  no brush teeth?!  no brush teeth?!  no brush teeth?!  no brush teeth?!  no brush teeth?! He made endless demands. Entreaties. Complaints. Random booming declarations.  He asked for cheeseburger and ate one bite.  He asked for park and then declared all done after 5 minutes.  He requested swim pool and lasted another 5 minutes before begging for ocean.

But Jonah adores the ocean – and it very nearly made all the trouble worth it.

Like childbirth labor, by August next year the meltdowns, yelling, endless repeated phrases, rapidly vacillating requests (ocean?  pool?  hot dog?  car ride?) and screechy whining will have faded into a blurry hypnogogic memory of vague pain.  We’ll embrace optimism – it’ll be better this year – and try again.

We did have gorgeous weather. 80-85 degrees every day with ocean breezes, blue sky, and a lame hurricane that limped in, wheezing its 30mph winds, half a day after we’d left for home.

I admit I’d have loved to walk leisurely with Andy down the beach or, dare I dream, go out to an actual sit-down dinner while someone watched Jonah.  But all in all I have to say we did well.  Jonah swam in the pool, in the hot-tub, in the ocean, in the other pool, in the bath.  He leaped across the jetties like a deer, and he never once tried to scope out strangers’ coolers or throw sand at hapless unsteady infants.

He did, however, swat.  He even says the word “swat” while he is swatting, every time, as if we’re too obtuse to comprehend his actions unless he verbalizes them as well.  This is something new.  All vacation long when he didn’t want to do something (or didn’t get to do what he wanted), he both vocalized and pantomimed swat.   We said “no swat” angrily and gave him the evil eye, at which point he switched into contrite-boy-mode, asking “huck?  huck?”  “okay?  okay?”  ad infinitum.  “No, it’s not okay,” we told him, so he reverted to “swat,” again cocking his hand for a hit at whomever he was nearest.  This would necessitate quiet time, leading to more fun frustration and further swatting.

“Second verse? Same as the first!”

~ Herman’s Hermits

On the ride home the swat-and-huck routine became infuriatingly surreal.  swat and hug and hug and swat, the entire way.  Since we were in the front of the car and he in the back, we couldn’t really hug him; a touch on his knee with an outstretched, contorted arm had to suffice.  When he began to weep and panic, Andy and I would alternate who “hugged” him, all the while searching for distractions to pass the time without incident.  We fiddled with the radio, shoveled goldfish crackers and potato chips into our child, and prayed he wouldn’t break anyone’s glasses at the next rest stop.  We wished the miles away and behind us, driving with a time bomb in the backseat likely to explode at any moment if we didn’t high-tail it home – and fast.

It was as if, driving home, we expected to find someone waiting for us (Maria Von Trapp again?), ready to babysit so we could finally sleep, rest, and have a vacation from our vacation.  Not so.  But we made it through, assuredly deserving of matching cheesy t-shirts:  We Survived the 2010 Cape Cod Swat Team!!!


Bring it on, September.  We’re ready.

Jonah returns to school Wednesday, and there is no pretense of apathy about it; if you listen closely, you might even hear the angels in heaven chorusing good tidings of comfort and joy.

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It’s just 9:30am and Jonah’s already on a long stretch of quiet time, earned by throwing a heavy laptop toy (and his juice) at me as we were getting in the car to go see train.  And yesterday he launched himself, kicking and scratching, at our awesome babysitter; luckily she had been taught a “hold” to keep them both safe.  Andy knows these holds too, having worked for more than a decade as a teacher at a small school for emotionally disturbed kids.  I don’t know the holds and need to learn them.

It is Monday, the first day of my week-long vacation from work; tomorrow morning we leave for Cape Cod, back on Friday.  I am frightened and tired and numb – oh myand feeling like the only good thing is Jonah’s in his room safely and I can write a little bit to ease myself out of this state of mind where nothing about this feels like vacation.

But I don’t want to talk about these things – not here, not today.  I believe what you focus on expands and so I will focus on something else; I will tell you about Jonah’s adventures yesterday, pre-flip-out-on-the-babysitter.

He asked for Russro Park, which has trails and woods behind it.  I knew he wanted to run into the woods and toward a big mound of dirt where he likes to play.  Andy and I both took him, which is kind of rare – usually only one of us takes him out, so the other one can have a break.  As I predicted, Jonah wanted the forest.  While he played on and around his dirt mound, Andy and I fashioned spears from small branches and played javelin-throw into a sandy area.  We goofed off, Andy channeling Thundarr the Barbarian, shaking two branch-spears and grunting cave-man style.  Me teach you, woman, how to kill bear. My wussily-thrown spears clunked horizontally to the ground, killing only my ego and maybe an ant or two.

Jonah, in the meantime, had discovered a small embankment where he could slide down the dirt to a level of forest maybe 5 feet lower.  This dirt-slide became his own personal woodland playground for the next half hour or so.  He tossed great handfuls of sappy pine cones and moss-covered sticks about, laughing the whole time.  He rolled in the dirt; bathed in the dirt; became one with the dirt – until he was completely layered in it, brown flour coating the baking-sheet of his body.  “Okay, boo, 5 minutes!” I called over to him.

“More stay here!”  he shouted back, panic in his voice.  Andy shrugged.  We stayed a while longer.  Jonah came over to where I was playing with sticks and stones in the dirt and asked for my bottle of water, which I let him take to his play-spot.  Minutes later I realized my mistake.  He’d taken the top off and poured the water over himself and the ground, making a big, fat, muddy mess of himself.  Now it was really time to leave…do not pass go…directly to the bathtub.  “More stay here!” he protested again…but even he must have known it was time to get cleaned up, for he capitulated nicely and we returned home for a marathon bath session.

When he was dry he came to me, asking “camwa?  camwa?”  I thought he wanted to see this train video I’d taken – so I set it up, started the video, and handed the camera to him.  But he handed it back to me and said “say cheese!”  Maybe he wants to take a picture or two.

I grossly underestimated his interest.  He took probably 200 pictures, in rapid succession, giggling “say cheese!” to me, to the dresser, to the mirror, to the bed, to the ceiling.  Here are my favorites:

Jonah took this picture himself

Jonah's new hobby

So maybe his new thing is photography.  I’ll be damned if I’ll let him break my camera, though, so I’ll set him up with the Fisher-Price digital camera my mom gave him a year or two ago.

I am continually frustrated by my inability to photograph anything with success, but I like taking pictures too.   If you really want to see some kick-ass photography, just check out my cousin’s photo blog.  (She’s got some pics of Jonah there too).

So maybe we’ll have lots of beach pictures taken by Jonah when I post next, probably on Friday.  And maybe I’ll have good news to report – maybe we had fun, maybe the weather was perfect, maybe the beaches were open for business — and maybe Jonah got through it all without attacking anybody or screaming penis! to the sunbathing beauties and leather-tanned fishermen and screeching seagulls.

Maybe.

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swim pool

Jonah loves water.  Bath time, “swim pool,” a water-table, the ocean, the slip n slide, waterfalls, a hose…even that birdbath in the picture above…they all hold intense appeal.   I wonder at the why of his water-worship.  Sometimes I think it’s because when I was pregnant with him, I reeeeeaally wanted a water-birth.  (What I got, however, was almost the polar opposite:  nearly 3 days of labor, 2 1/2 hours of pushing, and, as icing on that ridiculous cake, a C-section).

Or maybe he loves water because he’s a Pisces (water sign) named Jonah (who, in the Bible, was swallowed by an ocean whale).

Whatever the reason, Jonah’s just as comfortable in (and under) water as he is walking about breathing air.  Though never taught to swim, he seems to have always known how and will spend hours in the water.  In fact, by the time he was 5, he swam more skillfully than I ever have; I shit you not.  Watch this video from last summer (when he was 7) and see for yourself.  (Jonah’s also at his heaviest weight ever in this clip. Last year we had him on steroids to combat an eye problem which later required surgery, and it caused weight gain – you can see his “moon face” and chunky build).

Nowadays he’s lean, and brown, and has close-cropped almost-blonde hair…

waiting for the bus to summer camp

…but swimming is still on his favorites list.  Our next door neighbor has a disabled child of her own and a small pool in her backyard donated by Make-A-Wish, and she lets Jonah come over and swim any time he wants – which is pretty much any time and all the time.

We’ve tried to take Jonah to local public pools, often with disastrous results. Jonah loves to run around and is admonished frequently by the lifeguards, who are ignorant to the fact that he doesn’t care one iota about silly whistle-blowing authority figures trying to ruin a good time.  And oh, the joy of him deciding to wait until he’s swimming to push out some poopy!  Although we use swimmy diapers (and lately special non-disposable gathered swim pants), it is nonetheless necessary to be hyper-vigilant.   Usually we catch his tell-tale facial expression betraying the impending arrival of a poop; this requires the swiftest and most well-executed plan of action:  swoop in and scoop him out of the pool, hoping he’s not already dripping discolored water, and secret him away to the restroom or some other non-populated area where we can change him.

This is never easy.

Jonah, of course, does not want to get out of the pool under any circumstances.  He squawks, he screeches, and he sometimes cries, all the while fighting us as we dig around in the swim-bag for wipes, a plastic bag, and clean swim diapers & suit.  Then, more often than not, we’ll have him all cleaned up nicey-nice and send him back in to swim, and he’ll do it again.  And again.   Probably it’s the same poop, and he’s pooping that one poop in fun-filled stages.

My heroic husband has singlehandedly taken Jonah to public pools all over Albany, something I have never dared to attempt.  I much prefer the ocean

Jonah in the ocean

or the falls

He's a woodland creature

…where, I theorize, if poopy should arrive, I might be able to just let it.   But of course he’s never, ever, even one time, pooped at any natural water source.  Probably he’s just messing with our heads, planning to poop at the most inconvenient times on the most inappropriate occasions.

When we arrive home from swimming anywhere, Jonah will often request a bath.  Really, kid?  More water? On Cape Cod last year, our vacation consisted almost entirely of eating, drinking, sleeping, and immersing in either (a) the ocean (b) the pool, or (c) a bath.   We’d cycle continually from one to the next, like some family who’d spent so long crying agua in wasteland deserts that an abundance of water had become addictively compelling.

I’ve pondered the wisdom of turning his room into a big fish tank and simply tossing him in, but I’ll bet conventional society would frown upon this idea.

Besides, come poopy time, it would be absolute hell to clean.

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