Redneck Riviera With Kids: It Ain’t All Peace, Love, and Putt-putt
For ten years my husband and I
endured enjoyed, the sugary sands of the Redneck Riviera with a kid aged five or younger.
Each summer I imagined peace, love, and Putt-putt. I wore a badge of twisted optimism like some sort of hazy, Kodak-commercial, rose-colored glasses. I always forgot the misery and bloodshed of the previous year.
One kid loved the water. One hated it. And one was Zombie Baby, walking around crying with her arms straight out and chubby fingers spread because the sand was yucky.
We hauled a baby walker and a plastic pool down to the beach in addition to the usual mountain of essentials. We were hard-core parents, and we were determined to freakin’ have fun.
Once my husband had to fly out on business during the last few days of our vacation and suggested I stay a little longer with the kids. I wasn’t on Prozac . . . yet, but was obviously hallucinating when I agreed.
Being alone with the kids on the beach was stressful because of all the whining and crying, and sometimes even the kids whined and cried.
We had just settled under the umbrella when my five-year-old son wanted to retrieve a toy from the condo. I refused to go get it because I’d have to drag the other two kids also. He began wailing and grabbed my phone to call Child Protective Services. Naturally, I tossed him enough sugar to induce a coma, dodging that bullet.
My three-year-old daughter could pull a dog bed full of a 20-lb. sleeping dog across the house and out the door because Max “need some fwesh aiwr,” but couldn’t carry a beach pail.
On the last day my arms were loaded with gear, and when I asked her to carry the pail, she plopped down in the sand sobbing. I bent over to pick her up and my beach bag swung off my shoulder and smacked her in the head. With the weight of the bag hanging in front of me, I fell over her, head-first in the sand. She was trapped face-up under a mesh beach chair and calmly asked my son to make another call to CPS.
My 18-month-old observed, shaking her head, and jotted something in a notepad.
The morning we flew home, I frantically gathered toys, put back the pans my daughter slung out of the cabinets, packed snacks and drinks, put the pans back again, and retrieved the cordless phone from the trash can.
We raced an hour to the airport and while boarding, the kids loudly asked me 500 times whether my “throat huhwt” and was I going to drink those little bottles of “cough seh-wip” on the plane like I did last time. Don’t judge me. It was “Pre-WWW.” (Pre-World Wide Web) YOU try to keep an 18-month old occupied on a 1 1/2-hour flight armed only with books, stickers, and a straw.
When my husband returned home, I immediately threw him the reigns, warning him that I felt sick.
“In fact,” I said fighting some phlegm, “I might be contagious. I should probably lock myself in the bedroom . . . and I could really use some “cough seh-wip.”