The 4th Beach’s the Charm
Charlie had a very high level of energy Saturday and, consequently (as you may have noted), needed an awful lot of physical activity in the form of 7 walks in our neighborhood, 1 long walk in Liberty State Park, 1 shorter walk on the Hoboken waterfront, and 2 fast fast bike rides with Jim. He still didn't fall asleep till 1am, and woke up at his usual time Sunday morning, around 8am.
We had decided to break up the Spring Break routine of a walk, ride for bagels, walk, bike ride, hanging around the house (or trying to, as Charlie wants to gogogo), going on a longer outing. So took off for the oceab just around 9.30am. Charlie fell asleep on the ride down and woke just as we were nearing the beach.
It takes him a good hour to fully wake up when he's home in his own bed. Sleeping in the back seat of the car isn't, of course, as comfortable, especially when you're Charlie's height, with long gangly legs. While he knew we were going to the ocean, it must have been disorienting to wake up and realize, we're here!.
We wanted to go for a longer walk—the weather was amazing, mid-70s with the sun out and the light not as harsh as it was further inland—and went to a spot where you can walk through some dunes to the beach. Due to all the rain we had earlier in the week, the wooden walkway was flooded. Of course, I had remembered to bring extra everything except for socks. We considered urging Charlie to take off his socks and shoes (and, indeed, someone had carefully placed a pair of sneakers and socks just at the edge of the puddle on the ramp) but, a couple of weeks ago, he'd done this and expected he'd be able to swim in the ocean as he does in the summer and, though it was a warm day, the ocean needs a couple more months to warm up.
Turning back when we're headed in one direction has been known to irk Charlie, as if he can't quickly process the abrupt change in our trajectory, physically and in his thinking. He assented to walking back, getting into the car and driving to another spot—and then, after getting out of the car again, he cried out, grabbed at us, threw himself on the ground. Jim and I got Charlie right back up on his feet and started walking on the sand: Nothing like a big wide open space to walk things out.
We turned back after a bit and walked towards a diner and got some lunch, and went to another spot (fortunately Jim really knows his way around). Charlie got right out and led the way through some tall reeds. It was the beach where he'd run into the wind so happily last weekend and Jim and I followed, only to see Charlie hesitating after going a few hundred feet. A brown and white dog was running with its owner on the sand. Of late, Charlie will walk by a dog if he or she is on a leash, but this dog was definitely not. Jim and I tried walking a little further and coaxing Charlie, but he kept walking back, occasionally looking over his shoulder.
So it was back in the car. Jim drove us to yet another spot on the beach—we wanted to get in one peaceful moment!—though Charlie's often wanted to stay in the car when we've gone there. But this time, he wanted out and he walked and hung out on the sand with the sandpipers. This part of the beach is a bit of a cove and we stood and watched three surfers in the waves.
After all that, it was time to head home. Charlie again asked to take a local route and we made good time and then we found ourselves going the wrong way on a bigger road, turned back, and decided just to keep driving until we ended up on the Garden State Parkway. This meant a much longer ride than anticipated but there was one definite advantage: We ended up heading back east, towards the ocean.
Once home, Charlie wanted a bike ride. He really wanted to go out again in the car after that but Jim and I knew we'd all had enough. I wrote out a schedule (ocean–ride–home–bike–dinner at home–computer–bedtime). "No bedtime," Charlie said and sat down by
the open front door. I started cooking, Jim did some work on his computer, and then we decided on a really fast trip out, just to get gas. Charlie told us "order to go" and "this way, this way"; we uh-huh'd and nodded and noted we had food at home. Once there, Charlie rummaged in the fridge and cabinets and got the things he wanted. He sat on the couch and munched away, waiting while the computer started up and I went over his Spring Break social story and calendar with him. Charlie looked, finally, peaceful, not tense.
Ten minutes on the computer and Charlie said "bedtime." I tucked in a smiling boy and went downstairs.
Jim and I anticipated hearing the thumping of feet and a request for one more walk but, before 8pm, Charlie was definitely out like the proverbial light.
And so ends yet another Spring Break.
After which, all three of us could use some extra rest.
Or maybe even a vacation.