It’s amazing how much quieter the world gets when vacation ends and the four year-olds go home. My ears don’t quite know what to do with themselves. I have the same feeling I get when my wife clicks off the blow dryer, allowing all the other sounds to come rushing in, which are usually the sounds of PlayStation2 zombie heads exploding.
I’m finding that quieter isn’t really better. Everything is just a little bit more boring without five kids from two families tearing around the place. Now when I wake up in the morning, I can make it all the way to the bathroom without a four year-old latching onto my shin, sitting on my foot and yelling, “Go!”
Of course, when this happens, you have to encourage the child to say “please,” or the next thing you know they’ll be knocking over liquor stores without even thanking the proprietors.
“I mean the other magic word.”
“The other one.”
Forty pounds might not sound like that much, but when you’re dragging it around from your ankles, you learn very quickly that children do not make comfortable footwear, except maybe at Nike plants. Also, as long as they’re not the ones doing the work, kids don’t mind that it takes forty minutes to ride your leg to the kitchen. They’re too busy pinching out your leg hair. And when a six year-old grabs onto your other leg and yells “giddyup!” you could easily lose a footrace to a one-legged glacier.
As the week at the beach progressed, I was fascinated to learn that the hot commodity with people in the single-digit age bracket was other people’s litter. Kids all up and down the beach were pushing perfectly good sea shells out of the way to look for “sea glass,” which adults normally refer to as “broken beer bottles.” Sea glass has all the edges worn smooth, rendering it completely ineffectual in even the most rudimentary of bar fights.
To me, hunting for sea glass seems a lot like strolling along a meadow full of wildflowers and saying, “Aw, yes! Check out this cigarette butt I just found. Oh, smell it. Menthol! I bet whoever smoked this one had minty fresh breath. Do menthol smokers even need to brush their teeth? I’m saving this one for my butt-and-macaroni collage.”
But I suppose making little kids happy is about the best way to make use of other people’s slovenliness. If you’re the kind of person who hurls beer bottles into the sea, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve probably made some little girl’s day, assuming she avoided getting lacerated. If only we could get kids interested in “sea broken snowblowers,” I might finally get my garage cleared out.
As we walked with the kids down the beach looking for sea glass, the father of three of the kids said to me, “The transition from two kids to three is the hardest. When you have two kids, you can play man-to-man. When the third one comes along, you have to move to a zone defense.” The kids worked diligently on punching holes in that defense, driving hard to the basket all week long. They were just like little cookie-powered LeBron Jameses.
An ankle-deep wave came along and somehow managed to knock over all three kids, causing a Loony-Tunes-like dustup.
Their mother offered this: “Don’t kill your sister! I’m not making another one.”
But the kids quickly became distracted when their dad found a piece of blue sea glass, which is the Holy Grail of sea glass finds, and probably the most entertaining piece of trash not found in an E! True Hollywood Story. If those kids knew who Elvis was, they would have thought their dad was even cooler. Or at least as cool as the yellow Wiggle.
You missed Mike, you missed Mike, now you have to kiss Mike online at firstname.lastname@example.org.