“Can we talk for a few minutes before we go to sleep?” Yes, Ryan. Everytime. Yes. This question represents one of the various reasons I wanted to do our time away this summer. Those two, sharing a bunk bed room, making forts, making up games, playing on their Ipads, either together or simply alongside one another, and pre-bedtime chats and giggles. Hopefully forming a bond, stronger than one they may not have had otherwise.
At home, we are so lucky to have lots of great friends and neighbors with whom we spend a significant amount of time. For some, I can’t say which came first, the adult friendships or the kids. Bottom line, Casey and Ryan always have buddies around. But I’ve noticed over the years that when my kids are forced to be with just each other, they often make their own fun together. I love it and I feel responsible to help foster it so that they will grow up having one another’s backs, feel they know each other well and regardless of the fights they will have, they’ll appreciate their relationship. So, hearing them ask if they can stay up and chat for a little before they sleep is music to my ears.
We are home now and we all miss it. I am so glad I chronicled it in words and imagery because I fear that I will somehow forget bits and pieces the farther away we get from it. I feel somehow desperate to remind the kids of all of the details so they won’t forget either. They’re 10 and 8. They won’t remember it all. But I’ll keep reminding them.
We spent lots of time, simply, on the beach. I went in the ocean almost everyday. It’s good for the soul and healing for the body. I read copious amounts of books and we all slept late. We also set out on adventures at the waterpark, surf camp and a tree climbing course. Many mornings and nights were spent walking the dog for donuts or other treats. And we rode bikes out to breakfast and downtown. I confess that I had not ridden a bike in years and now I can’t wait to keep doing it with them. My inner kid made an appearance a lot this summer and I hope she remains on the outside more often.
They both laughed on the car ride home about how before we headed off in late June, I told them to understand that we would be there for more than a month and they would not be getting ice cream from the Fudgy Wudgy guy everyday. Luckily, we weren’t on the beach everyday because contrary to what I said, everyday that we were, they got it. Not because I wanted to avoid whining or tantrums but because ice cream on the beach is one of the simplest of childhood joys and I wasn’t doing irreparable damage by saying yes. I was giving and getting joy.
We wrapped up our time at the shore with what we’ve long called our best week of the year. We’re going on year 13 of spending a week with a mix of family and friends in Sea Isle. The group changed here and there but a few have remained constant. And the current group is 8 years strong. The kids spend time altogether but also, perfectly, have a similar aged cohort or two that they pair off with, very nicely. The youngest, Ryan, is now 8. The oldest, Jake, is 14. Our lives at the beach have gotten easier. But the laughter that travels from coffee on the deck to the beach, and then to dinner and drinks on the deck, remains consistent. One friend spoke of sore stomach muscles one morning. And I assure you, we weren’t exercising. Just laughing until we couldn’t catch our breath.
I fought back tears as we drove off the island but kept reminding myself of a previous post. Don’t cry because it was over, smile because it happened. I am ever more grateful we made the decision that, at first, seemed impossible. It will go down as one of the best we’ve ever made. I took the kids to the pool yesterday and they knew it was likely no other friends would be there. Happily, there were some, but as soon as those friends departed, Casey and Ryan simply went back to playing with each other. One of the many beautiful side effects of our summer away.