Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Seaside Part 1

I find I'm trying to reconstruct my childhood in my vacations. Not purposely, but out of habit.

To that end i took the family to the Oregon coast, to experience the beach as I experienced it: chilly, windy, and with far too much Gore-Tex™. It's summer vacation as experienced by a son of immigrants. How were they to know a proper vacation was at a multi-billion dollar ride park festooned with anthopomorphic domestic animals, professionally-created childhood-focussed-grouped animated imagination avatars and other copyright protected IP? They wouldn't.

There is also the small problem of my parents being under the intermittent delusion that they enjoy the outdoors. (Memories of camping, such as it was, is dominated by twenty year old canvas tents that I now know smelled overwhelmingly of mildew with brief notes of a hardy, devastating killer mold; short-lived fires that were constructed with the quixotic idea that a roaring blaze could be had from warming rather large, damp logs with a handful of forest detritus; and by the recurring, never realized aspirations of going fly fishing at 4 AM.)

So, without knowing that 'going to the beach for our children to get partially blinded from short lived fires' was not a 'thing' to do, that's what we did as kids.

And so that's what I did with my family. Minus the fire bit.

The hardest part of the vacation was the drive, of course. With children, it seems, it's always the bit where they have to stay very still while confined with nylon straps and being told to 'look out the window'. Yes, we did have a device for playing the Dora's and Thomas the Tank Engine, but we wanted to wait until we really needed it, the Death Blossom of road-trip childcare if you will. Because if you play that card too early, and they get sick of it, well, then you're exhausted and they're tired and bored and you have absolutely no psychological backstop to stop you from offing yourself with an imaginative use of the automatic windows, a trick shoulder belt, and the judicious use of the e-brake.

If a kid is really young they don't actually care, and are happy to sleep and snack and look at the blurry things out the window while being flabberghasted and amazed by the most mundane things. Like trains, boats, an El Camino that has made the disastrous conversion to 'camper'. That's Owl Jr.

If a kid is really old, they, I'd assume, find a way to amuse themselves. With the bluetooth and the blackberries and the text-mess--why no I do not have a smart phone myself, why do you ask?

If a kid is in the Magic Zone of Maximal Annoyance (Owlet), then you're both in for a treat. They are like elves, these little guys, their attention has the ferocity and lifespan of a mongoose cross-bred with a mayfly. We brought colouring books and toys and games and oh look congratulations, you've just amused her for 27 minutes. 7.5 hours to go there, bucko.

And, thinking about it, trying to keep my blood pressure down as she complains that 'it's so tiring' even though I'm the one who had been driving for three hours, I can see where she's coming from. She has no reference for how much longer it'll be, or how to keep track of the progress, of having any indication that we won't, in fact, end up spending the rest of our days in that car driving steadily south on the I-5. I came to this realization as I tried to calculate when we'd get to the rental house given our current speed with rest stops.
But we all mustered through. We did this trick of leaving really early so the kids would sleep in the car for a few hours. And much to everyone's surprise, it mostly worked.

This karmic fluke would be paid back in full, later.


spruce said...

Nothing quite as painful on kids as the long car drive. You'd probably be better off if you could flash freeze them and put them in a tube in the trunk, then thaw them out when you reached your destination. Certainly, when I was a kid, I would've killed for that option.

Niteowl said...

Or maybe keep them frozen for the entire trip, that'll make for a relaxing vacation. And when they wake up, yell in a spooky voice, "WELCOME TO THE WOOOORLD OF TOMMORROOOWW!!"