Sunday, we didn't go to the beach. We had to return the black minivan to the rental car place at the airport. Charlie got right into it with his favorite things, owing to which I was enjoined to come along for the ride as I know exactly how many little bead and color things Charlie likes to have in the car with him and my dad and Jim were worried that something might get left behind. Charlie was fine about bidding the van good-bye and got right back into the white car and we went home where he immediately asked:
We hadn't been planning to go Sunday, in part because, without the van, it would be hard to fit five people (us plus my parents) in the white car for the long ride to the beach. And, too, it's not a good idea to do exactly the same activities day after day with Charlie as then the exceptional becomes a routine and, well, one is asking for trouble. Going to the beach, eating one's favorite sushi, and riding rides aren't for everyday.
Charlie does know this. Do anything two days in a row, though, and it's more than likely that he'll anticipate it should be done everyday, and then what was fun and pleasurable becomes an obsession that must be executed. Hence it was good that Charlie rode in the rented minivan. And, too, that we didn't go to the ocean Sunday.
With the 90 degree heat, being on a break (albeit a short one) from school, my parents visiting (Charlie loves their company but having them visit is something different from 'the usual'), we've been anticipating Charlie being edgy. Frankly, our main goal till he is back in school on Wednesday is to keep as much peaceful easy-feelingness going as possible, so we do plan on one more beach trip Monday or Tuesday. Yesterday, we again thought we'd try Charlie going to the town pool where he and I passed pretty much every summer afternoon from 2003-2005. As he did last time, Charlie said 'no,' 'no' and 'no' to the pool so we headed back home. Charlie got out of the car and ran inside and raided the fridge and then wanted a walk.
It was just after 4pm and definitely very hot. The only other people out were teenage boys (on bikes or skateboards), one female jogger, and a woman with two dachshunds who, on sensing Charlie, lunged on their leashes and started barking up a storm. We kept walking. Once home, Charlie must have drank about 7 rounds of lemonade (the cup wasn't the biggest) and then he and Jim and I got in the car for a ride. Charlie, not surprisingly, directed us 'that way' and 'this way' towards the Garden State Parkway as that's how we get to the ocean; Jim and I were careful not to say 'ocean tomorrow' more than once as, while Charlie understands about having to wait, when he hears a phrase like 'ocean tomorrow' it's only the 'ocean' part that seems to get absorbed and then, um, problem.
Jim drove us by a park where he and Charlie had ridden bikes many a time when Charlie was just learning to 'squeeze brakes.' I noted how, after seeing them off, I'd sit in the car (the old green Subaru stationwagon) and read various 18th century European philosophers, in preparation for a class that was a little outside my 'academic comfort zone' but that I was nonetheless team-teaching, back in 2004. Then Jim had the idea of going to a little local amusement park that we once always used to patronize, to the point that, for some years, I had to avoid driving by it on days when we weren't able to go and in the off-season.
Once he heard we were going there, Charlie said 'Frog Hopper' and 'I want swing' a number of times. (That's a bit of an understatement. Ahem.) We got tickets and—there were no lines as very few people were there, compared to what we remembered—Charlie did the Drop Zone/Frog Hopper, again twisting back his head as the ride neared the top.
Charlie also did the swings. When he was the size of the other child in the photo, Charlie had the same gleeful smile: Maybe he's got a bit of that adolescent 'puh-leez I'm not gonna show how much I love this' 'tude in him. (To see Charlie in the photo below, click on the photo or here to enlarge it—Charlie is in the background; the little dude in the front is not him!)
Charlie did still expected Jim to ride beside him on the Paratrooper, which he considers the 'ferris wheel' at this amusement park.
After the third ride, Charlie betook himself to the exit and we left, without tears or fuss—both of which were once upon a time inevitable. Gone are the days when we could scoop Charlie up in our arms and carry him away but you can't be nostalgic about everything.