Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Eve: Say Yes.

On Christmas Eve, we went to the beach. But we almost didn't.

During our whole 2+ week long Florida trip we had been meaning to get out to the beach, but somehow we never quite made it. Living as a family of 5, we've got excuses up the wazoo.

While I was tucking Oliver into bed on the night of the 23rd, he asked me when we were going to the beach. In my head I pulled up the calendar and realized we didn't have much time left: the next day was Christmas Eve, which we spend with Jared's grandparents. The day after that was Christmas, which we spend with Jared's immediate family. And then the day after that, we were boarding the plane back to Minnesota.

We didn't really have any time left to go to the beach.

As I started explaining all of that to Oliver, I realized that I was breaking his heart.  So halfway through my excuses, I stopped making up reasons why I was saying no and instead I chose to say yes.

Yes, Oliver. We will go to the beach. Tomorrow. Sleep well, and tomorrow we will go to the beach.

When "tomorrow" came, it was the windiest, cloudiest day of the whole trip. After finishing my morning pumping session and feeding everyone breakfast and getting everybody dressed, we were off to a late start. We had only a few hours before we were expected to be at Christmas Eve dinner. Again I almost canceled our beach trip, but then I remembered: I said yes.

We were going. We had to go. I said so.

As we piled all of the kids into the car, we tried to set their expectations low and set up some ground rules: 

We can't stay long. 
You can't get all sandy right before we go to Oma & Opa's. 
The weather isn't very good. 
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are we going into the water.

On the drive to the park, Jared and I argued about which part of the beach would be best. Jared wanted to walk along a more secluded trail, but I didn't think we had the time nor the kids' abilities to walk 2 miles at a reasonable pace. I wanted to head to the boring beach area where everybody and his uncle parks their beach umbrellas because it was the easiest choice.

When we parked the car, we still hadn't decided what to do, so I threw up my hands and decided to give up and walk along the trail Jared chose. A quarter of a mile in, Colin threw himself onto the ground and refused to walk any farther.

So Jared and I argued more. "I told you this was a bad idea!" was what I may or may not have yelled at Jared multiple times before I took the baby and headed back to the car by myself.

For the 1/4 mile walk back to the car, I kept imagining how good it would feel to have Jared return with the two cranky, exhausted older boys so that I could smugly say to him, "I told you so."

But the longer I sat in the car waiting with Bill, the more I realized I didn't want to be angry anymore. I just wanted to have fun with them. When I finally spotted the boys coming down the path towards me, the first thought in my head wasn't, "I told you so" but instead, "I'm sorry."

Apparently Jared also had the same change of heart, because the first words out of his mouth to me were, "Let's not be angry. I'm sorry."

We sat in our rented minivan and looked at the clock. We had to leave in twenty minutes if we wanted to get home in time to shower and make ourselves look nice for dinner.  After a moment's discussion, Jared and I knew what we had to do: We were taking the kids to the beach that they had been hoping so very much to see, even if we only had a few minutes.

As we drove the half mile to the beach's parking lot, we warned the kids that we couldn't stay long. Again, I told them we were not going to be getting sandy or wet right before Christmas Eve dinner.

But by the time we got the kids down the little boardwalk path to the beach, I knew there was no way that I could stop them from putting their bare feet into the sand. After waiting so long to see it, I had to let them really experience it.  Reluctantly, I said to them, "Alright, guys. Go ahead and take your shoes off and leave them here. But stay out of the water."

It was less than thirty seconds after I finished saying those words that I saw Colin running into the surf. I almost opened my mouth to yell for him to stop, but when I saw how excited he was to play with the waves, I couldn't do it. Instead I settled for rolling up his pant legs and a muttering a half-hearted "try not to get your pants wet."

At that point in time, I knew I wasn't kidding anybody. I know Colin. I knew he was going to be in that water. The farther we walked along the waves, the wetter Colin got. The wetter he got, the more pieces of clothing we took off of him until finally he was jumping the waves in nothing but a soaked pair of Sesame Street underwear.

Oliver was right there with Colin, scooping up sand with his bare hands and throwing rocks into the waves. Oliver's pants, too, were soaked. The beach was deserted and it was the windiest, cloudiest day you could imagine but we were having so much fun. We knew we really should be leaving the beach if we wanted to get home and shower for dinner, but we saw how joyful those boys were with just the waves and the sand, and we stayed longer. The shower wasn't worth it.

We stayed on that beach until the very last minute, every single one of us having a great time. We rushed back to the van when our time was up, laughing at the piles of sand in Colin's hair. Both older boys were so sandy that we actually took them over to the dog wash and literally hosed the sand off of their bodies.  While running back into the car, Colin tripped and skinned his knee. He cried the whole ride home. When we tried to clean out his scrape, he got so upset that he peed all over himself and Jared. At one point, all three of our kids were crying in the back of the van. Jared and I, still riding the high of our successful and offbeat beach trip, exchanged a look that says, "This is so us! Isn't this funny? Our life is great."

We ended up being late for dinner and walking through the door with saltwater in our hair, dried tears on our cheeks, and a skinned knee but it was so worth it. What started out as such a terrible, rushed morning actually turned into the best hour of our whole vacation. All because we willed it so. Because we chose to have fun. Because we said, "Yes."

Will waiting in the car, but clearly he wasn't angry.
Walking to the beach.
Almost to the beach, everybody is still dry and fully clothed.

Feet on the sand.

Staying out of the water...
...but not for long.
Colin's signature look on the beach.
Jumping waves sans pants.

So windy.

Very sandy. Moderately wet.

Even more sandy. Even more wet.

Baby testing the gulf waters

Now shirtless and pantless, but still with dry hair.

Completely soaked from head to toe after going under.

Later that night Colin was given a shirt which reads, "Put your toes in the sand. Let the sun kiss your face. Enjoy life."  How funny that Colin got to do all of those things only hours before. All because we said yes.

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