You remember last week I talked about my trip to the Jersey Shore in the summer of 2008 with the three kids and no Mama Bear. Remember, the non-stop chatter about superheroes? Well, here’s the rest of that story.
It was Day 2 of our trip. Mama Bear wasn’t expected to join us for another day and Gamma and Pop Church had house cleaning to do. I just came off what felt like 24 hours of answering the same question over and over, but the weather was nice and it felt like a new day.
See, I’ve learned as a parent of three younglings you have to have some sort of short term memory loss to get by each day sane. If I let what drove me completely nuts the day before to continue to bother me the next day, you quickly lose your senses. I associate this to a closer in baseball; he can’t loom on what went wrong the day before when he blew the save. He needs to concentrate on the task at hand to try and succeed. The key is to learn from what went wrong and improve.
It’s that last part I’m not good at. I’m a little slow at learning.
Like a glutton for punishment, I took all three kids to the beach on my own. No parents, no friends – nobody. Just me, two 5-year-olds and a 3-year-old on an endless beach. A beach with lots of water. Lots of water and sand. Lots and lots of sand.
As soon as we got there, Peanut Bear wanted to run in the water, Junior Bear wanted to stay at the shoreline and play, and Cookie Bear…well she didn’t want to do anything but stay at the towels.
So here’s the scene: A beautiful late summer morning, Papa Bear who burns a shade of red never seen before even by a lobster and sweats like there’s no tomorrow, a girl (Peanut Bear) pulling on his left arm towards the shoreline, a boy (Junior Bear) with a hand full of sand that he’s trying to put down the back of Papa Bear’s swimsuit and a third child (Cookie Bear) 20 yards away at the towels screaming that she doesn’t want to go towards the water.
What was I thinking!?
I had to quickly turn the tables.
I had a flashback of an event that happened earlier in the summer with the twins and Pop Church (my dad), who I think intentionally sent me to the beach by myself as payback.
See, earlier that summer Mama Bear, he and my mom (Gamma) took the kids to an event at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. I was working the event, so couldn’t be there to help. At one point, Junior Bear and Peanut Bear got hungry and he agreed to take them to the concession stand.
Well, no sooner did he agree, Peanut Bear bolted out of the chair and ran up to the concourse. Junior Bear was close behind, and my dad was sweating to keep up. Needless to say the twins beat him to the top. Peanut Bear didn’t hesitate and made a left hand turn, disappearing out of sight. Junior Bear had a moment of hesitation and paused at the top. He looked left, then looked down at his Pop, probably thinking “I shouldn’t do what I’m about to do,” and then made a sprint to the right.
Flustered, my father threw it into a gear he hadn’t seen in decades. He ran after Junior Bear first since he was closer and then tracked down Peanut Bear. When he got them together he yelled like he hadn’t in years.
Pop Church: “That was bad! You never run away from me!”
I’m sure he added some other choice words to get the point across. He had every right too. That’s a scary thing. And only because everyone turned out okay, I can laugh at the next thing that happened.
Junior Bear, not happy he was being yelled at, immediately got mad at his Pop and said, “You’re not very nice.”
Well that sent my dad at a whole new level, a level that was later explained to me by Mama Bear as Phase Purple, because my dad turned purple yelling.
Anyway, back to the story (focus Papa Bear, focus).
I couldn’t go in the water. That was the absolute wrong answer -- that much I knew. So I let Junior Bear get me with the sand. He wasn’t going to stop until he got me. I then chased the twins up to Cookie Bear and buried them. I buried them all up to their heads and that’s how they all stayed until Gamma and Pop got there a few hours later. If they can’t move, they can’t cause problems, right?
No. I’m joking. I didn’t bury them up to their neck -- just to their waste. They got out and we had fun.
I am quickly learning that vacations aren’t relaxing anymore and I need a vacation from vacation.
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If you liked this story, try the archives (located along the right-hand column) and find some other stories of a grown-up child trying to navigate through fatherhood.