Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Big Happy Family

      Back when my two boys were growing up, I frequently used the term “one big happy family” to describe our family bonding adventures, whether that involved camping, road trips or a night out altogether.  Now that my two sons are married with one living near Washington DC, those adventures seem so far in the past.

     But a couple weeks ago we re-lived those days, kinda.  My wife and I rented a condo at Ocean City, Maryland that could accommodate everyone including our two grandchildren.  We could all stay together for a week—one big, happy family—just like days gone by.

     I loaded up our mini-van with lots of toys for kids and adults—a metal detector, kite, an old boogie board which my boys used an a previous beach vacation over ten years ago, a restored ‘geezer golf’ game, lots of DVDs, a couple board games and an oversized flashlight to spot crabs on the beach at night.

     My oldest grandson Grant is a huge fan of crabs and has been since he got hooked on my old sci-fi movie classic Attack of the Crab Monsters.  I brought that DVD but for some reason neither he nor my other grandson Luke wanted to watch that, preferring to watch the “ogres” battle humans in another sci-fi classic, The Time Machine.

     Grant and I found a park in Ocean City where they were catching crabs off a pier.  One fisherman had a half-dozen Maryland blue crabs in his bucket.  I also bought Grant a soft-shell crab sandwich so he could say he’d eaten crab.  “That’s really gross,” he said, refusing the seafood treat I’d bought.  

But Grant liked the crab I’d found on the beach and put into a makeshift aquarium.    Never mind that it was dead.  Neither Grant nor my other grandson Luke knew that.  When my wife Wendy complained the next day that the crab was beginning to smell, I told Grant it was time to release the crab back into the ocean to join his family, which Grant helped me to do.  “Do you think he has a son?” Grant asked as a big wave carried it out to sea?
      The boys were wary of the heavy ocean surf, never having experienced that.  Two-year-old Luke was knocked down by a big wave and was content to play in the sand from then on.  Grant would play catch-me, running from the big waves as they rolled in.  For the adult children and their spouses, the surf, sun, shopping and sand all sufficed.

     What about the toys I brought?  Our old boogie board was ripped to shreds by the second or third wave it was ridden on.  I asked Grant if he wanted to help me look for treasure with my metal detector.  “No.  But can I have some of what you find?” he asked.  He has future as a tax collector for the government, I’ll bet.

     I flew my kite once; the boys weren’t really interested in helping with that either.  The geezer golf game never left the back of our mini-van.  Grant did accompany me with my flashlight one night on the beach, but he insisted that I shine the light into various holes in the sand dug earlier with plastic shovels and pails.  I knew we weren’t going to find anything in any of those.  And we didn’t.

       Luke’s version of vacation fun was more skewed.  He enjoyed locking himself in the bedrooms at the condo.  “Open the door, Luke,” his dad commanded to no avail.  Luke would appear at a patio door, also locked, and make half-hearted attempts to unlock it as the rest of us urged him on or tried to find a utensil to pick the other bedroom door lock.  Luke seemed to be enjoying the attention, running from the bedroom door back to the patio door and back.  Eventually Wendy found a tomato peeler which worked as a lock pick.

      So at the end of it all, I asked Grant what his favorite part of our Ocean City vacation was.

     “The ogre movie,” he responded.

     Thought he might at least say the crabs.  Well, at least we were together as one, big, happy family.