We’re headed to the beach – the family home we haven’t seen in nearly 18 months. The kids are out of school, the weather promises to be idyllic. What for your ordinary traveler might be just a “nice weekend,” is for two war-weary parents with a disabled child, a chance to grasp at heaven. Matt and I may as well be first-classing it to the Maldives for as excited as we are.
The resort town is a perfect child’s playground – ice cream stands and pirate-themed trinket shops, a boardwalk and bikes to rent, and a playground and sand and lighthouses dotting the peninsula like giant candles. There are hours of activity in store for Noah, Grace, and Jesse. And from the second-story deck from which we can see the ocean, the adults can talk for hours in hammock chairs with the kids scrambling at our feet. It is very nearly perfect for everyone. Save for one tiny detail: the road trip required to get there.
Under “ordinary” circumstances, we should make the trip in about 5.5 hours. However, we’re lucky if we arrive in fewer than seven. And now, with the loss of modern conveniences like the car’s DVD player and CD player (thank you, Jesse for proving that both devices work just as well as coin slots as they do electronics), it’s going to feel a little like a Bonanza wagon train. Just imagine a very long, very hot, very boring, very crowded car ride with a child in the backseat repeating, “Bad, Jesse! Bad, Jesse!” Then imagine the offended child starts screaming, as anyone would, should their moral composition be repeatedly questioned. Then add another child, who will start whining that she’s hot, or that she didn’t really want chicken nuggets (even though she explicitly told you otherwise), and will extend her leg to Noah, whispering, “Noah, you better not touch me.” To which the first child will respond as anticipated, and the girl will scream with operatic shrillness and set every dog down interstate 95 to fits of barking. Then imagine all of this occurs in holiday traffic, with a whistling window seal resulting from a poor repair job, and a son who insists on eating the same sunflower seeds as his dad (and in the same abundance), which means potty breaks of more frequency and greater urgency than anyone could have anticipated. I usually need a wheelchair and a bag of IV fluids by the time we get there – just like some actress/singer/“celebutant” claiming exhaustion. Listen, I have no personal beef with Rihanna, but I doubt girlfriend’s taken a drive like ours.
So if you think of it this holiday weekend, will those of you without children, or with children who are better behaved, or with cars of better repair, headed on shorter drives – will you pray for us?
And then, sitting on the beach in what is left of the magenta sun, watching my son scream into the misty air as he delights in the roar of the coming tide, I promise to pray for you.