I have to confess that what I’m about to do feels very weird indeed. I haven’t written in a diary since I was a love-sick teenager, age 13. It was the summer that my first boyfriend Joey dumped me for my best friend, Joanie. Perhaps the alliterative sound of Joey and Joanie was more to his liking than Joey and Susan. All he had to do was ask. I would have changed my name. But that’s a story for another day.
The reason for affectionately addressing a blank piece of paper today is a far cry from that heart-breaking summer of my youth. As you might remember from my last blog post, my honey and I are embarking on our very first cruise. (if you didn’t read it, that’s OK. But remember, I know who you are!)
One of the rites of winter in Florida is the annual visit of the grandchildren. Four years ago I commemorated this event with an essay. Yesterday marked the end of another week that was long on fun, but short on time. So please forgive me while I repost. Four years later, some things have changed significantly, while others have not. Play-Doh and sparkles have been replaced by shopping excursions (this year it was the quest for the perfect Steve Madden shoes), competitive tennis, and a zealous interest in all sports teams whose names begin with the word “Boston.” The pool barrier is gathering dust in the garage. And the current dog doesn’t hide, but jumps right into the fray. Things that have remained the same: the food consumption, the exuberant energy, and the delicious chaos that resonates throughout the house. And, of course, there’s still the laundry. So if you’re reading this for the first time and have grandkids, I think you can relate. If you’ve read it before, maybe, if you’re like me, you won’t remember!
Is there an official start date for one’s second childhood? I don’t mean the one that accompanies the onset of dotage, but a time of life when you no longer feel silly about releasing your inner pre-adolescent? I urgently need to know, because it’s already June and I’m thinking about enrolling in summer camp.
I never went to summer camp, and I’m tired of being left out! “Left out of what?” you might ask. Left out of all the screeching and squealing that occurs when we are out to dinner with friends, and three out of four (that’s me who’s excluded) discover that they all went to Camp Gitche Gumee or Maka Laka or some other fictitious Native American tribe.
Then they start reminiscing about the lake, and the counselors, and visiting day, and the food, and how they learned to water ski. All that nostalgia about Color War and gathering around the camp fire. If I’m really lucky, I’m treated to a chorus of the good old camp song.
It is July and once again we have succumbed to the temptation of a summer rental. Apparently the seduction of a new experience was more powerful than the memory of our last rental. At that time we had fallen in love with a charming, rustic home on an island with beautiful beaches. At least I heard that the beaches were beautiful.
For three weeks I viewed life through a screened-in porch. I was loath to go outdoors for fear of being eaten alive by voracious mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that seemed to thrive on bug spray and had no respect for protective clothing.
But time does have a way of subduing unpleasant experiences. Otherwise, there would be no such thing as siblings, would there? So here we are again, committed to another three weeks in someone else’s house.
All over south Florida the cry can be heard. Grandparents everywhere have marked their calendars. It’s President’s week, and the children have a school holiday. They will visit, and life as you have come to know it will be suspended for the next five to seven days.
Whether this event makes you feel like Paul Revere or Chicken Little, or perhaps a bit of both, you recognize that the atmosphere becomes charged with anticipation.
In our case, the youngest three of our five beautiful grandchildren, ages five through eight, will be arriving, along with their parents and a teen-aged niece, who will be the mother’s helper. A party of six will be sharing our bed and board. How do I explain this to the dogs?
I hate packing for a trip. I hate packing for a trip almost as much as I hate preparing for a colonoscopy. It’s not so much the physical act of buttoning, folding, and strategic placement in the suitcase as it is the premeditation. I don’t know how it is for you men, but for most women with a sizeable wardrobe (and that is most women I know) it is the anguish of decision-making.
There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination with an over-stuffed suitcase and concluding that everything you brought with you makes you look fat!