Children are mentioned and mentioned and mentioned. As is the Maryland State Dessert:
We are back from our trip. The last vestiges of the suntan lotion have been washed from our shoulders and the laundry is humming in the dryer.
How was the trip? That's a bit of a loaded question that encompasses the failings of our expectations coupled with the normal behaviour of two not-quite-four-year-olds (as well as their imaginary friend they brought along) and the fact that as we planned the trip, our brains regressed to the summer of 2007 where the beach was still shiny and new and we ran through the surf hand-in-hand like a week-long familial tampon commercial. Overall, it was fantastic. Overall, it was exhausting and frustrating.
The problems began with the inclusion of Bronner, the ChickieNob's best new invisible friend. I have to admit that when Bronner came to exist in our house (albeit intangibly), I was pretty excited. I have an enormous fondness for my former imaginary friends and I loved that she was building her own small army of invisible playmates. Last week, she spent over an hour by herself, cavorting with Bronner and leaving me to take care of dinner and dishes. What's not to love about a girl who brings you the gift of time?
Except that this girl needed to bathed each time we returned from the beach. Meaning, I had to stand in the shower and pantomime giving an invisible girl a shower or else the ChickieNob would stand, dripping on the bathmat, fresh from her own shower, screaming like the valkyrie, her mouth open in an endless shriek. If we walked down the street, I needed to hold my other hand out at an awkward angle as if I were strolling with two children (one visible, one invisible) and if I dropped my hand or itched my nose or gestured while I spoke, my daughter would scream to the whole of Chincoteague: "you just let go of Bronner's hand! Do you want her to run into the street and get SQUASHED BY A CAR?"
I spent a lot of time smiling nervously at people in downtown Chincoteague and saying, "I really don't want anyone to get squashed by a car."
Last year, we rolled with the sand and surf--whatever came up, they cheerfully went with it. This year, we were all a little too set in our desires and all of our desires conflicted with another person's desires. For instance, the Wolvog only wanted to eat pancakes for breakfast and wanted them now and wanted them before Mommy could take a sip of her coffee so she could be conscious enough to cut said pancakes. The ChickieNob only wanted to eat bran muffins--and not just one; she wanted three--and she did not want to sit on the potty. Josh and I wanted to read our books--just read our books for fifteen minutes--but the twins wanted to play a game called "poop" which involved bringing fresh buckets of water up from the ocean, dripping sand in them, and taking out the wet remains to fling on the beach while screaming, "poop poop!" Josh and I took turns trudging down to the surf (since the twins were not allowed to go to the water by themselves yet) and gasping back over the hot sand only to do it again two minutes later when they announced they needed to make more sand poop.
There were some really amazing moments and overall, we understand that our children's behaviour is ten times better than the average 3-year-olds and therefore, we have nothing to complain about (our kids can sit in the car for 8 straight hours without complaining as long as we hand them a tattered Playmobil catalog to stare at. Oh, and as long as we let the Wolvog choose the music and this time it was Fountains of Wayne all-day every-day). But we left the beach exhausted. Needing a vacation from our vacation. It is a lot of work to move twins and an imaginary friend through the day when you are miles from home.
The highlight of the trip--maybe for all of us?--was the side trip to Smith Island. I have to admit that I was nervous to go because I had built it up in my mind over the last 24 years or so; since I was ten and first read about the island. Back in college, I had planned a trip to Australia and then had a dream where I was rafting from tiny uninhabited island to tiny uninhabited island in Oceania on a Kon-tiki raft and the dream was so amazing that I cancelled my trip to Australia because I didn't want to ruin the image I had in my head. I ended up going to Norway instead and went to the Thor Heyerdahl museum where I saw...a Kon-tiki raft.
But my image of Oceania remains intact.
I am happy to report that Smith Island fulfilled all expectations. It looked different in terms of where I had placed buildings inside my head, but overall seemed the same; therefore, it was like walking into my own imagination. I just wanted to be in that space--it didn't need to do anything and we barely did do anything while we were on the island. I just wanted to breathe there and be there and exist there. I literally fell in love with it, head-over-heels, completely, school-girl crush it.
We ate lunch at one of the two restaurants on the island--a place with not one vegetarian option (the waitress commented that I wasn't ordering anything and I said, "I'm a vegetarian" and she laughed and said, "good luck out here!") and only one semi-kosher-like option: fish and chips. We rented a golf cart and allowed the Wolvog to drive us with some guidance from Josh because it was that sort of place--where you felt fine allowing a not-quite-four-year-old to drive a golf cart over the barely-there streets. The ChickieNob and I wore sundresses and when she asked why we were dressed up, I admitted that I was emotional and it felt momentous to finally be there and I wanted to look nice to mark the event. She nodded solemnly and said, "Bronner must have known too because she is wearing a pink sparkle dress with pink sparkle shoes and pink sparkle ribbons in her hair."
And at that point, I was back to feeling thankful that Bronner was there.
Smith Island is the home of the state dessert (what, you didn't know we had a state dessert? Well, we do. Did you know we also have a state cat? The calico?), a 10-layer cooked-icing cake that was so insanely good that I wanted to bury my face in the cake saver and never return. I love my state so much that Josh says that I fart black-eyed-susans. But I was literally bursting with pride while we ate the cake. There was an elder hostel tour on the island at the same time and they were receiving a lecture on the creation of the cake that I listened in on. I am going to attempt it this weekend. I literally tossed this cake around in my head for the duration of the entire car ride home and had a eureka moment after midnight last night about the cooked icing (Josh was not thrilled to hear about my eureka moment despite his equal love of the cake). I have not been this excited about a baking project in a long time.
So we are back, a little burned, a little exhausted. The twins are talking about how we can get back to Chincoteague--back to horses that walk right up to your car as you're driving to the beach (we saw herds of wild horses and four times had horses come to stare into our car) and the wild ocean and the ice cream store we went to every night. Josh and I are also talking about how we can get back to Chincoteague for a real vacation. Which means leaving Bronner and perhaps others with Grandma.
Pictures of Smith Island forthcoming on Sunday with Show & Tell. Because who doesn't enjoy looking at someone else's vacation photos (yawn...)? But Smith Island is different because Smith Island is pure coolness on top of sand. And because it is the birthplace of the Maryland State Dessert. And because it is one of the most unique places in America. I desperately want to house a foreign exchange student just so I can take them on trips to places like Smith Island. How many times can I use Smith Island in a single paragraph? Smith Island, Smith Island, Smith Island. And um...you're going to want to see the photos I took of the slice of cake before we ate it. So check back Saturday night when I post the next Show & Tell thread. And think about what you're showing the class.