Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Seaside Part 3 : Beach
It's a tricky thing toddlers, the Terrible Twos. That explosions of impotent rage are just under the surface most of the time, but it's something that I've come to empathize with. Imagine if you, after months and months of not really having an opinion about anything, suddenly, are YOU. You with all your preferences and ideas and wants. Now imagine that you need to communicate with an unreasonably large human who has complete and utter control over everything you do. Now imagine you can't quite speak English. Or can, perfectly, clearly, succinctly, but either the Ginormous Human has defective ears or you must, at all times, speak with your mouth filled with marbles.
I can see where the rage comes from. These episodes usually arise when the activity changes, especially if I'm taking Owl Jr. from an activity he likes, aimlessly following tire tracks, to one he might not like, joining up with the family.
As emotional and mercurial as kids are, I've found that what they want is to be reasoned with. They need to understand the logic, the why, the what, and they can be receptive to it. Or they can give you their reasoned rebuttal with screams of 'NO' that has the decibel level and chaotic clarity of a 80's hair band at the height of their powers.
So the reasoning begins, the simple, calm, quiet reasons. The trick is to not show fear, to not show the merest chink in your armour through which they can burst through and weather you down to the nub of a human you are after, say, a five hour drive running on nothing but diet red bull and a bag of corn nuts. It's a bit like you are the negotiator and what you're trying to get is a calm transition, and what they threaten, whether they know it or not, is an episode to rob from you the last precious bits of energy your frail, pathetic parenty body contains. The energy you were going to use to read a book when they were asleep, or something more luxurious, like brush your teeth, or breathe unassisted.
It's a relief that's quite hard to explain when Owl Jr. relents and gives me a pause, looks at me, thinks, then says, 'Otay'. It's quite possibly one of my mostest favoritist words at the moment. That and profligate. The other possible result the classic toddler meltdown. Nothing to do there but bunch up the shoulders, weather the storm, and try not to make eye contact with the appalled theatre-goers who just wanted to see "The Hangover 2" in peace (I kid, I'd never bring my kids to see that, explaining all the jokes, the references, the double entendres, the monkey? Come on).
In any case, it's a semi-meltdown. It's a crime against human rights and all that is just in the world that I should pull him away from following slight indentations in the sand just so he can go play with his sister in the sand. If she can't see the magic of actual rail road tracks in the beach that'll inevitably lead to Thomas, well, that's her loss, isn't it? Isn't it?!
We make it back to basecamp, with more, rather than less, tears cried. Instead of calmly making a castle or homestead or pyramid or whatever while Mrs. Owl relaxes, Owlet has taken on the job of MONSTER CRUSHER of things Mrs. Owl must make in the sand with increasing urgency. I never remember getting my parents to do that. More power to Owlet, I suppose.
And then, finally, it's time to brave the cool waters of the Oregon coast with the waves and the sand and the more waves.
We stand about where I think it'll be safe, outside the undertow zone, not high enough to sweep my children away from me as I hold onto their hands. In any activity that has even the slightest danger I don't think I'm alone in the dad-o-sphere in that I picture the worst case scenario, which, I should tell you, involves a tsunami, a pod of radioactive psychopathic killer whales and a nuclear submarine with a faulty firing safety protocol. So I don't so much hold their hands as clutch them tightly should I have to haul them both bodily out and run to the nearest abandoned Cold War era bombshelter with optional supply of killer whale repllent.
I look down at them, holding on for dear life as the waves sweep them up, they are hooting, howling, having a good time, and besides the odd smile coming to my face I realize that, at this moment, to them, I'm the strongest person ever. It's a little humbling, and a little disconcerting as I have the bones of a osteoporis addled hummingbird and the athleticism of someone who was personally offended by the TV character Urkel. But to be linked to all those kids who's parents haul them back onto their skiis, or lift them out of the pool, or do any number of hefting and lifting that's required of a parent of young kids.
We have a great time and of course Owl Jr. has to go back to the beach earlier than Owlet, as he's going to get chilled to the bone faster. Not that he'll admit it. The answer is always 'no' to the question of 'Are you cold?'. I have to watch for visible signs of mild hypothermia, and of course, haul him out of the water. That is my responsibility, after all, being the unreasonably large human, and Owl Jr. isn't communicating properly, mouth full of marbles notwithstanding.