Some Explaining To Do

Charlie, Jim told me, missed me on Friday while I was in New York. He enjoyed the bike rides and walk and the burrito but, after going up to bed around 10pm, he came back down and insisted on staying on the old blue couch, which is where I found him, sound asleep, when I came home around 11.30pm, and where he slept for most of the night. We would have liked to have gotten Charlie up to sleep in his far more comfortable bed but we got adamant no's when we asked Charlie (who is, obviously, long past the carrying age) about going to his bed.

The blue couch is comfy but there's no substitute for stretching out in one's own bed. Charlie woke around 4.30am, went up to his bed, couldn't go back to sleep. By 5.45am he and I were out walking, with the sun just rising. It was delightfully cool, by which I mean I got to wear a sweater the whole time. Charlie kept up his power-walk pace: I don't make a big deal about timing the walk, but I think it takes us just about an hour to clock in with 3 1/2 miles.

Charlie did not, as he has been, request a morning bike ride but to get in the car. It was quite early (before 9am) but he was willing to wait while Jim did some errands and I did some housework. Then we loaded up the car (I keep the beach bag permanently packed) and, on finding stop-and-start traffic just as we pulled onto the Garden State Parkway, took various local roads and were at the beach before noon.

The ocean was (finally) more to Charlie's liking. It was shallow for quite a ways but further out the waves rose and crashed. Charlie spent much longer with his boogie board attached to his wrist than he has been and got two pretty good rides before handing Jim the board and going back to swim and duck under the waves. As he's been doing, he said he was ready to go after only a half-hour and then, after kicking at the sand and pacing for awhile, went back in (with Jim encouraging him to do 'just one more swim!' and then we'd go) for a long session which (from the expressions on his face) he quite enjoyed.

On the walk back to our car, we passed the beach house which we've rented for the previous five years but won't be this year. We're not sure how Charlie is going to manage not staying at the beach in general and at this beach house in particular after summer school ends next Wednesday. We usually stay at the beach during the second and third weeks in August (as that's when summer school is over and just before I have to go back to teach) and I'm sure that Charlie knows that time is coming up.

Charlie had been doing no more than looking at the beach house until two Saturdays ago, when his walked up the front steps and tapped the glass door with his palms, then came back down the stairs. Last weekend he had  gone into the back to check out the outdoor shower where he used to spend a great deal of time—something magical about taking showers outside, and nice hot ones too. Yesterday, he ducked in to see the shower as I stood by and Jim went ahead to the car. A minute passed and then Charlie came out looking serious and then he turned around and went back behind the house again.


There were cars in front of the house but (as far as I could tell) not necessarily anyone in it. I started crafting explanatory sentences and reminded myself, keep it simple. Then Charlie appeared, still swimsuited. I guess the time to be alarmed will be if we hear the shower water go on and a swimsuit on the ground.

Yes, it's for a social story about 'why we are staying at home this summer and VISITING the beach.' I have to watch how I word it: Saying 'we are not going to stay at the beach house' can end up communicating that 'we are going to the beach house.' Charlie understands full well what 'not' and 'no' mean when used in isolation, but when he hears 'beach house' it doesn't matter what other words are in the sentence. 'Beach house' is such a loaded word for Charlie that it has the potential to make it hard for him to process the other words and their meanings.

But all's well that ends well. Charlie was cheerful and laughing some as we left the beach (having lunched). The rest of the day passed with a bike ride and a walk, computer time and refrigerator-raiding. I rather think that Charlie has been really liking being in our house. Perhaps he'll be relieved that he doesn't have to transition to the beach house and then back home.

I'd still best get those explanations ready just in case whoever's staying at the beach house finds an unexpected guest in their outdoor shower.


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