Right before our kids turned one, my wife and I took them down to Florida to visit my parents. The flight down would provide some excitement as we were informed by a stewardess, sorry – flight attendant – that our seating arrangements wouldn’t work. I had one baby on my lap, Nicole had another, and Jessica – our helper – had a third. There are only 4 oxygen masks overhead yet we had six people in the row. The stewardess – sorry, flight attendant – actually told me that I would have to choose which two children would die in the event the O2 masks came down to which I replied, “If those things come down, we are all goners.” She then told me that the Captian would stop the plane’s progression to the runway unless we changed our seating arrangements – because, of course, all passengers can sit wherever they want in planes right?
Let it be known that the airline had multiple opportunities to inform us that infant triplets cannot sit in the same row on the laps of their parents/helpers – like when I called to make the flight reservations, when we checked in at the airport, when we boarded the plane, or BEFORE THE PLANE LEFT THE GATE but perhaps she was too busy cutting her nails to notice.
The point is, my kids have had a few milestones down on Florida. On that first trip I have vivid memories of them pulling themselves up and walking around my parent’s circular dining room table – it wasn’t long before they were independently mobile and our lives changed forever.
They also learned how to swim independently down there – as a former swim teacher I taught them many of the basics in the pool at my parent’s codominium. So Florida holds a special place in our hearts.
But those three little kids are not so little anymore; in two weeks they will turn thirteen and I find myself asking the same question Gerry Garcia asks in Uncle John’s Band, “Where does the time go?”
They’ve come to that age where the things we do embarrass them. On short drives their headphones come out and family banter is silenced. They want to go to places alone rather than with us. They talk back and manipulate and fight with each other. In short, they are teenagers.
That said, every now and then I get a glimpse of those little babies who were amazed by very simple things. Yesterday Gracie and I took a walk on the beach to collect some seashells. We probably only walked a half a mile in each direction but we had a nice talk and she was happy as a clam to just put her little treasures into a ziploc bag (no fancy bucket us).
We also saw this guy who was very excited about something.
Later in the day yesterday I had the opportunity to go Kyaking with Maggie. We went to Birch State Park – the site of many a field trip when I grew up in FL. Maggie, my hockey playing daughter who always puts on a tough exterior, and I eased our Kyacks into the water and started to paddle away. We were just seconds into our ride before the screaming began. “I can’t see the bottom…I don’t want to go through the weeds…what if there is an alligator, I just heard a noise…I want to go back.” Yes that tough almost teen was – for a moment – a little girl who needed her daddy to reassure her that everything will be alright.
At the pool in the afternoon we saw this guy and were reminded that our time here is short and that we should treasure every moment (life is too short to stay inside).
We also saw these lovely ladies getting a serious workout in the pool.
Last night the family played in the first annual Carlon Beach Bowl – a simple game of two hand touch football on the beach. The girls were teamed up against the boys and for a brief twenty minutes they forgot that they hated each other and worked together to try and beat daddy and Paddy. Their effort was in vain – the boys won 7-0. The girls immediately went back to arguing.
Today it’s golf day with Patrick – who knows what adventure that will bring. It will be our first time playing together since moving from California and I am looking forward to a little one on one time with my always hungry Paddy boy.
We may not be able to do big fancy vacations filled with high adventure but these little moments are what happy childhoods are made of. I wouldn’t exchange them for anything in the world.