What I Did On My Summer Staycation


Sisters in sand.

Sisters in sand.

I never recall having to write the trite essay in school about “what I did with my summer vacation,” so maybe I’m making up for lost time.

Here is part of that vacation, in our case a vacation at our house so it was a staycation non-trip:

She: “You’re very dirty. Go take a quick shower while I finish supper.”

Me: “OK.”

And I did. And I liked it, even if it was quick. Showers are better when you’re really, legitimately filthy, and I was. I had been following rambunctious grandchildren around all day, and it involved bug spray, sun screen and lots of sticky sand, not to mention mysterious damp substances that collect around small kids like slime collects around snails.

Don’t get me wrong. I love small kids, especially my grandchildren. For them, I will gladly get dirty. As Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood sang in “Best Things” from “Paint Your Wagon” (this song by Al Lerner, Andre Previn): “The best things in life are dirty, the worst thing in life is waiting up clean without a bean.” By the way, I always misheard “bean” as “dream,” and I think dream is a better lyric.

Anyway, over four days this week, we had either four or six grandchildren running about. It was exhausting, but grand, too. I did get a bit grumpy some evenings, but so did the kids. Overall, the visit went quite well and had lots of highlights:

  • Me mowing a daughter’s lawn. Yeah, exciting, right? But the mower was much nicer than mine, I don’t really loathe lawn mowing—it’s a chance to walk about outside, even if it’s in too close proximity to a gas motor—and I noticed something when mowing the daughter’s lawn. She has tall plants in her garden, the misnamed “milkweed” which needs good PR and should be called “monarch flower,” since this attractive plant is the only one that hosts monarch caterpillars. I want those seeds when the pods dry out.
  • Parks and parks and parks and parks. Each day, it seemed, we visited at least one, if not two (I missed one in a morning when I was gone, there was at least one three-park day) each day. Splash pad at Thomas Park, check. Sand volleyball court at Fox Trail Park, check. Bever Park farm animals, check. The “broken arm” park at Bowman Woods School, where, I’m happy to report, no other bones were broken, check.
  • And the weather was ideal. Warm but not hot. Lazy days in the sun before the final rush to school.

Well, I’m already paying a price. I was at MMU today working in the Times office, and that will probably be my home away from home this weekend. Suddenly, syllabi demand immediate attention. For a time—like the next nine months or so—life will be busy, busy, busy.

Girl with a Nerf gun.

Girl with a Nerf gun.

Still, thank you to the daughter and her husband who moved the other daughter to Baltimore for law school and trusted us your young ones. We enjoyed corralling the kids. And we didn’t mind at all the extra two who were with us for two days, in case a third daughter wonders.

I didn’t get to spend all four days at home—I had commitments on campus two of the days. Listen here to me on the radio—10 minutes starting at about the 10-minute mark. That interview happened during the staycation. But for the bulk of four days, I lived a delicious reminder of why sane people have children in their 20s and 30s and not in their 50s.

I have few regrets—one is that there could have been more biking. I may need to borrow some 3 year olds soon for that purpose. Mostly, I appreciated the chance to relive some of the best days of my 20s and 30s. Kids in the house make for noise, mess, stress and plenty of action.

I may be a bit tired. It’s a good tired. I want those kids back again sometime soon.

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