"Will They Have People In Carmel?"
You have to wonder what small children are thinking. They have no idea at any given moment where they are going, or what they are doing. How many times have I just loaded the kids into the car (the little ones) and shlepped them off to run errands. They kind of just go with the flow, and then every once in a while they say something that highlights the extent of their true cluelessness. On our way down to Carmel this weekend, Rosie asked, "Will they have people in Carmel?" Excuse me, what? What did she even think Carmel was? For all she knew, we could have been heading off to spend the weekend in prison. Turns out I had even bothered to explain we were spending the night there. She thought we'd moved.
Obviously, we went on that roadtrip -- and I emerged victorious in the DVD battle! Michael set up his laptop for the kids to watch movies on. We drove all the way to Carmel accompanied by The Country Bears. Unfortunately, Michael and I had to listen to it, too, and couldn't even put on music of our own. I only mentioned once during the whole ride that the built-in minivan DVD comes with headphones for every kid. I thought that was very restrained of me. And I probably wouldn't have said anything at all if the profound sadness of Bonnie Raitt's presence in that movie hadn't overwhelmed me with a deep and abiding despair at the transience of success.
I never expect vacations to be anything but horrible, probably because as a kid all we ever did for "vacation" was go visit my dad's family in Montreal. Not that that was necessarily horrible, but it was no Disneyland, let me tell you. Tea with the Aunties is all well and good, but when you're seven, the Yiddish jokes wear thin.
I'm always surprised when trips turn out to be actually fun, which this weekend has been. Don't get me wrong, Sophie and Zeke are at each other's throats ("He's making that sound again." "She called me butthead."), but despite that, and despite the fact that this evening Abie was possessed by a Dybbuk (no other explanation for his twenty minutes of hysterical screaming makes sense), we're having a lovely time.
Everyone loved the Aquarium (Monterey), but I won't bore you with details. I will say one thing, however. Forgive me, but I just can't get myself worked up about the potential extinction of the Great White Shark. I know I'm being terribly shortsighted, I know how important predators are to ecosystems, blah blah blah. But my mother took me to see Jaws when I was a kid, and then to see Jaws II when I had only just recovered from the first one, and I haven't been able to swim in the ocean since. I'm in a constant state of Great White panic. Frankly, I don't even like swimming in lakes and ponds. If I can't see the bottom, there's always the chance of shark attack. I swear to God I read once about a freshwater shark. Or not. Still. It's a phobia, it doesn't need to make sense.
We go to Hawaii every year, and I spend almost no time in the ocean. The kids are like little sea lions, splashing around, swimming out to the diving platform. Every afternoon I wade majestically out a few yards -- wearing my sunhat and with my UV protective coverup trailing in the waves. I flick my hands at the water once or twice and say, "Oy, what a machieh." Then I hightail it back to the beach where the chances of having my limbs gnawed off by an eight-foot-long beast are slightly lower. Yes, I'm your seventy-six-year-old Tante Sadie. What can I say. And this year I get to add a whole other anxiety to my Great White phobia (which, I must add, is pretty reasonable, as phobias go, given that the Big Island is on the Great White migration route, and don't forget that surfer kid who got her arm bitten off just two years ago. But I digress.) I'm planning on adding tsunamis to my list of vacation-related anxieties. A neurotic Jewish girl can figure out a way to make any tragedy feed her own craziness, no matter how distant and unlikely. It's a special talent we have.
Oh, and one other note from the field. In case you're wondering if Shout wipes take out strawberry jello, the answer is no.