Just The Four Of Us.

This past weekend we tried something new.

We prefer doing what we know works – we’re not the type to be like “hey let’s try this new big thing with our kids! I bet they’re old enough to not make it miserable!” No. We wait until we are solidly sure that they are absolutely more than old enough to do whatever new thing is out there.

And that’s how we found ourselves, for the first time, at the beach – just the four of us.

We prefer traveling in a herd. With family or friends…more adults staying in our vacation abode than just us. When toddlers need naps and babies scream and everybody needs food all the time, the more adults the better. But now we have a 6 and 10 year old. They fix their own food. They entertain themselves on car trips. Life is easy. Clearly we waited too long for this step.

Chris’ Aunt and Uncle (who live at the beach) have a new rental condo in Gulf Shores that we were excited to visit. It’s a one bedroom, but had bunks in the hallway for the kids. All of our beach trips the last few years have been off-beach to save on money (traveling in herds = more bedrooms = more money), but since this is a one bedroom, it was totally affordable and made us realize how much we missed being RIGHT THERE. The walk was easy (no football-field-sized boardwalk or blocks of neighborhood), we sat on the balcony and listened to the waves at night, and everything was just lovely.

We like lovely.

We tromped out to the beach the first day, and Ali immediately ran to the water to enjoy the waves. Noah, on the other hand, was perfectly content to dig holes and bury his father.

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In fact, it became clear fairly quickly that he had decided he disliked the ocean.

Scared, he said.

This was as close as he’d get.

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And this was not okay.

No, no, no.

We have two more beach trips this summer with other people and the kid MUST like the ocean. It’s a Callahan rule.

Chris and I agreed that Immersion Therapy was in order. Which was correct because we both received honorary Psychiatry degrees upon procreation.

So we told both kids we were going out past the waves as a family. We were ALL going, EVERYONE would be safe, and there would be NO complaining.

We were ankle deep when Noah started panicking.

Chris picked him up and carried him, assuring him it was FINE, we were completely in CONTROL of the situation. The waves were perfectly tame.

God chose this moment to teach the lesson that parents are not always correct, and sent The Mother Wave at us. I mean seriously – we did not see another wave like it all weekend but it just HAD TO COME at that exact moment.

It knocked Ali off her feet. It knocked me off my feet. It knocked Chris-holding-Noah off his feet – partially because a thrashing panicking child is quite a bit unhelpful for balance. Furthermore, it immediately stripped Chris and I both of our sunglasses, and we all came up gargling and screaming.

But The Mother Wave showed no mercy. She decisively carried both pairs of sunglasses to Ariel, where she is thrilled with our tandem fish hula hoops, or whatever she’s using them for.

After a good bit of walking up and down the beach hopefully staring at the waves (while Noah quickly retreated to his sand holes), Chris walked across the street to buy us both new, much cheaper sunglasses (the general store across the street became an instantly important perk to our vacation.)

While he was gone, I talked Noah up.

“We’re going to try again. You must not be afraid of the ocean. We won’t make you go far. But we’re all going out.”

He continued to be an Ocean Denier.

I pulled out my phone. I googled up four years of my own blog posts.

“Look. Here you are enjoying the ocean when you were 5. And look at you under the water and laughing when you were 4! And when you were 3, you were happy to fall into the waves!!”

“Oh…wow…”

I felt my words had finally had impact. A near-adult six year old could not be more of a wuss than his 3 year old self. Right?

Chris returned with a pair of glasses and a strap for each of us – we would not be losing our sun protection during anymore forays into Forced Child Fun.

And we set out again. Not far – but far enough. And I am here to testify: it might cost a false start and the loss of two pairs of sunglasses, but Immersion Therapy works.

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For the rest of the day, Noah jumped waves and squealed with glee, getting deeper and deeper into the ocean after each jump.

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He told everyone that it was the most fun he’d ever had. And even gave it a rousing “Best Day Ever!!” by the end.

That night, after dinner with Uncle Leo and Aunt Kitty (okay we totally hung out with them a lot so I guess we still prefer being with other people on vacation after all),

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we stepped out onto the beach for a beautiful sunset walk, again remembering how nice it is to be RIGHT THERE on the beach.

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After the initial “What?? A Walk??”, the kids became quick fans.

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Noah even rewarded me with a surprised “Wow mom! This walk is a lot more un-boring than I thought it would be!!”

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It’s amazing how right parents can be. About all the things.

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…Maybe one day he’ll just believe me the first time I say something.

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Highly doubtful, though.

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After a good long walk,

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We ran back to our room and settled everyone down.

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And then started all over the next day.

Sand holes and all.

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Except this time, Noah remembered how fun the ocean was and didn’t bury his head in the sand.

Can’t say the same for the rest of his body, though.

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Shameless plug: Kitty and Leo’s condo truly is delightful and low-maintenance and an inexpensive family beach weekend and right across the street from a restaurant, an ice cream parlor, and an emergency grocery store that sells surprisingly nice sunglasses. I get absolutely nothing for plugging it, but I do recommend it if you’re looking for that kind of thing. You can see it here.

It’s Hard Work Being His Favorite.

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“Mommy, You’re the Best.”

“Hey Mommy………..I love you.”

I hear each of those phrases at least forty-eight times a day.

Noah likes me. A lot.

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And by a lot I mean he really prefers to be with me at all moments.

It’s utterly precious until it’s not.

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All the honest Moms out there say “here, here.”

“Not” starts somewhere around 10am in the morning when I need just a second or two by myself.

But that is an unreasonable request, he quickly lets me know.

And I have to ask…

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So to have a tiny second to myself, I try gifting him with the lovely bonus of a break from school. And I steal away to my room for just a second of silence from his incessant talking and questions and talking and questions.

But he comes and finds me.

During break time.

It’s as if he doesn’t understand that break times are for Mommies.

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So I do what any normal mom would do.

I take a shower.

Thinking that this is the one place I can have a moment alone.

Until I start to get out of said shower.

And notice a tiny set of blue eyes peeking from the other side of the cracked door.

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I scream.

Naturally.

Because my brain doesn’t immediately compute that it’s the stalker I birthed from my own body and not some other more nefarious stalker.

Which makes my tiny stalker cry.

“Mommy! You scared me!”

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Yeah. Because I wasn’t scared at all.

So we get in the car to do errands.

Where it becomes most apparent that he can only process thought if and only if he thinks out loud with the preface of “Hey Mommy….?”

After which he’ll wait 3 seconds for an interested answer.

I don’t give it. Because I only have so many interested answers a day and he’s already used them up before I get out of bed.

So he continues without feedback.

“Hey Mommy….did you know I once forgot to put my goggles on when I went down the slide at the pool?”

“Hey Mommy…I really like Pokemon.”

“Hey Mommy…you should really see mine and Ali’s city on Minecraft.”

After the first few Hey Mommys my brain feels like Louis C.K.

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After ten more Hey Mommys (and we haven’t even gotten out of the neighborhood yet) I feel like Klum.

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At Hey Mommy number 25 (we might have made it to the interstate by now) my insides are full-on Snape.

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Halfway through our 20 minute trip we reach Hey Mommy number 53 and all I hear and see and feel and am is Schwarzenegger.

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It’s rough being so thoroughly loved. But it’s precisely why we become Mommies.

The Super Bowl of Homeschooling.

To a homeschooler, there is nothing more thrilling than standardized achievement tests.

…Okay actually this is way too blanket a statement and is vastly over-applied.

To myself and my daughter and perhaps a few other homeschoolers, there is nothing more thrilling than standardized achievement tests.

I adored them every year when I was a kid. I looked forward to them with much excitement. I loved that my Mom took me to the store and let me pick out whatever snack my heart desired – she said I needed as much brain power as possible to help me to do well during my tests.

(10 out of 10 kids do best when they get to pick out their own snacks.)

And oh, the random snack I chose every year.

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Potato Sticks.

I don’t know why I picked these – I actually don’t remember eating them at any other time except for achievement tests, but they were my standardized snack of choice.

(Maybe it was peeling that plastic seal off that allowed the metal ring to pop off in such a satisfying way. Maybe it was the film of oil on every surface of the inside of the can. Maybe it was the closest thing I could get to Fries in a Can.)

Anyway. Between my beloved Potato Sticks (do they even still make those?), the delight of filling in rows and rows of bubbles, and having a few days in a classroom with other homeschoolers, testing season was the best.

And it thrills my heart to see my daughter find the same joys as I did.

She asks me at least once a month, “How much longer until achievement tests?”

And, with much excitement and glee, they arrived this week.

I of course let her pick out her own snacks. She went with these attractive looking creatures:

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Just as her mother before her, this is not something she normally eats, nor is it something she’s asked me to buy at any other time.

Also? They look like literal dog biscuits. So at least we share extremely questionable standardized snacking taste.

Anyway. She’s taking tests this week, and I’m proctoring tests (for a different grade), because if I’m not allowed to take standardized tests anymore, proctoring is second best. At least I get the joy of seeing other people scribble in beautiful little bubbles.

Right?

As such, I’ll be back next week, fresh off the oh-so-addictive high of helping little minds compare their smarts to all the other little minds out there in the world.

In the meantime, let’s discuss:

1. Did you love/like/hate standardized testing?

2. What unusual snack would you pick out today if you had a week of blissful multiple choice bubbling?

I think I’d go with Potato Sticks. For old time’s sake.