Notes from California, Part I

My children are going to grow up thinking California is a dream-fulfilling fantasy-land where only good things happen, the rivers run with chocolate milk and the the sidewalks are paved with candy. Why wouldn’t they? If this is what they think, they are in the company of many, many good people. Remember 1849? Me neither, but you get the point.

We come to California about twice a year to visit my family. DFM often stays home, (unless we are talking about Christmas or a family occasion, like a wedding, that required his attendance) so the kids are exposed to long strings of days without dad’s influence, showered in love from grandparents who see them only every few months. Their every wish is fulfilled, generally before they even realize they have a wish. I am not complaining… I get a secret little thrill out of seeing my children so very loved and of seeing my parents getting to be generous and loving grandparents. Far be in from me to say “no” while we are here!

This trip through the airport was much less traumatic than January… I was the only one who had to take off my shoes; both kids whizzed right through the security gates. Whew. We cut it a little close time-wise, and they were starting to pre-board as we ran to the gate. We were behind a group of older folks who were kind enough to let us go ahead. (I think they wanted to see where we were going to sit so they could move far, far away!) We made it all the way down the jet-way before Eric started to scream. Now, when I say scream, I really mean scream; purple-faced, back-arched, stiff-body, back-diving screams. We were the second people on the plane, and he was already wigging out. It is a two hour flight into Oakland, and after about 45 minutes, he was so exhausted that he collapsed in my lap. My arms felt like over-stretched rubber-bands from trying to contain him for an hour. It took him about 20 minutes to regain enough strength to begin to scream again. He stopped when we stepped onto the jet-way in Oakland. Seriously, like a faucet-tap being turned off; he just stopped. He has been a happy, happy kid ever since.

My mom and step-dad picked us up in baggage-claim, and the boys ran to grandma and grandpa as soon as we rounded the corner out of security. My mom’s face was all teary when she finally hugged me, and I felt kind of like we just experienced the perfect, movie-like moment. When we got to my parents house, the boys discovered new bikes for both of them, a playhouse including carpeting and a chimney that my mom made, and various other goodies waiting in their room. Within a short time, my dad came over to hang out, my brothers were both by, my sister-in-law showed up with my nephew, my cousin Michael came over, and two friends called about getting together with our kids. No wonder they love it here!

Everything in the world can be found in the bay-area. It is unreal how much is here, and things for kids are no exception. Today we went to this huge, indoor playground, complete with climbing walls, two-story slides, obstacle courses and inflatable trampoline rooms the size of a softball diamonds, no kidding. (I am not going to even wonder why they need an indoor playground when it is always 73 degrees) My kids had a ball; they were a sweaty, tired mess when we left to go have lunch at a friend’s house.

When we returned to my mom’s after lunch, my step-dad had a delivery of dirt dumped by a big dump-truck in the driveway, and was wheel-barrowing it to the backyard. Is there anything in the world more dear to hearts of 2 and 4 year-olds than grandpas, dump-trucks and dirt? I am hard-pressed to think of anything better.

Right now they are getting ready to walk to the new multi-million-dollar park (1/2 a block away) and ride their new bikes. I get some peace and quiet, and they get one-on-one with grandma and grandpa. We are celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday this evening, and tomorrow there is a big party at my cousins house.

Why did we ever leave this magical place? I haven’t forgotten, but that, my friends, is another post, on another day. For now, I am out to enjoy the magical air of a northern Califonia late summer afternoon.

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