Life is really about vacations. You either live life looking forward to one, or agonizing over one too quickly gone by. Just two weeks removed from our week at Nags Head, and I don't need to tell you which phase I'm in.
I've got to say the transition back to the real world, the one that has bills and work, and thank God for the latter when you have the former, has not been as challenging as I had anticipated. Don't get me wrong, the communte up and down I-95 has been less appealing than a week trekking along the boardwalk to the beach. Almost as appetizing as going from fresh seafood buffets to Gordon's frozen fish sticks. I expected that. It's not the first time I've had the dreaded post vacation shock syndrome (PVSS).
What I didn't expect was the smooth transition Elliott and Ian made back into their own real world. After spending a week living in and exploring the worlds of their older cousins, I'm sure they began to question just how appealing their real world really was. At times they had to think they were vacationing on a different planet. One that has video games, later bedtimes, lots of cool, big kids sayings, and hoo haws.
What's a hoo haw? If you know, you've probably been to the planet our boys visited. If not, then you'll enjoy the story of exactly how I came to understand the hoo haw, or what we earthlings call a full moon.
I was sitting on a bed with Elliott while Katie was giving Ian a bath in the connecting bathroom. I was watching a ballgame and minding my own business, which is a rare opportunity when you're sharing space with Elliott because he insists on being the business. It wouldn't be long before that was the case on this night.
Without warning, he stood up on the bed between me and my ballgame. I barely had time to take issue with the sudden blackout of my game when a streaker ran across the field. Only the field was the bed, and the streaker was my boy. He stood there with his pants and underwear dropped to his feet and his sun-deprived buttocks pointing straight up in the air. A full moon shining.
"Elliott, what are you doing?" I asked. Visions of security guards and tasers and ESPN highlights ran through my head much faster than the streaker before me.
"I'm showing Ian my hoo haw" he answered.
Ian. He was in the tub lost in one of his waves of uncontrollable giggling. Water was splashing and his little finger was pointing at Elliott. When he finally managed to pause for a breath, you could hear him trying to say "Elliott's hoo haw."
"Where did you hear hoo haw?" I asked him.
"(Cousin) Evan's shorts fell down in the ocean today and we saw his hoo haw." he answered, his voice filled with an innocence one might have expected vanished after witnessing the nude beach scene.
I'm happy to report that without much guidance, the whitest part of Elliott's body is once again referred to as the "hiney".
Then there was the PS2 discovery. His cousin's hand held video game that consumed Elliott's vacation life every bit as much as the pool or the ocean. Each of his four cousins who vacationed with us took equal pride in showing him the ins and outs of portable gaming. They wanted him to be a winner, to see his name listed next the flashing lights that spelled out high score. Yet all I could picture was Elliott turning to me and saying "I wish I had one of these," a request that up to this point was limited to small toys from Walmart that barely broke a five dollar bill.
My anxiety peaked one evening when the kids were getting ready for bed. Elliott is always good about making sure everyone gets smothered with good-night hugs and kisses. It's why bedtime is my favorite time of the day. But on this night he was distracted. He seemed to be in the middle of an intense search as he stepped over and around all of us who were puckered up and waiting with our arms spread wide. It was like we weren't there.
Then the search ended. Elliott had found the cord that connected the electrical outlet and the PS2. Before he called it a night he wanted to make sure the game would be fueled for action the moment he climbed out of bed the next morning. Then, as if checking off a to do list of things to complete before going to bed, he kissed us all good-night. I thought for sure he was going to lay a smooch on that video game, which might have destroyed my daddy ego right there, but instead he simply shot it an adoring look and raced off to bed, undoubtedly ready to speed the night away that stood between the moment that would bring them together again.
I told my brother-in-law that I was sure I would have to spend several weeks re-programming Elliott when we got home. The test was last weekend when we did our weekly grocery shopping at Wal-Mart. I knew it would come up. Elliott and PS2 had been separated for more than a week. He hadn't mentioned it, but he's smart enough to lay low until just the right moment. He's old enough to be strategic.
Sure enough, we weren't through the doors yet when he asked to "go see" the toys. This was it. I had practiced saying "no." I was going to use the old diversion of "maybe Santa will bring it," a technique I'm sure my own parents used to deprive me of millions of dollars worth of toy requests. But he didn't go there. He led me down an aisle full of stuffed animals. He wanted a cobra snake. I got him the snake and a scary looking spider as a bonus. And I got Ian a frog and a turtle (in the back of his mind I know he picked those two thinking he could feed them to Elliott's choices). It was the happiest ten dollars I've ever spent.
When I saw them playing with the animal toys in the back seat on the way home, it occurred to me that I wasn't really opposed to Elliott playing with the video game. The video game was just one more sign that our little boy is growing up more every day. And that - I'm a very opposed to.
Oh, Luke, you're my favorite cousin. Mind if I play with your PS2?
Elliott did take a few breaks away from video games to play on the beach.
Flying our first Kite.
Elliott climbs his first tree - none too confident I might add.