Forgetting Our Vacation

The two bare baby butts I’ll remember, most of all.


Late Night Mermaids
  • I’ll forget about the two-hour tantrum when we got home from vacation, a festival of scream fueled by no sleep (all day), no poop (two days), and no on-time take off from Minnesota (four hours).
  • I’ll forget about the misplaced but agonizing guilt when Boobaby’s 2½ years matched up poorly against her 3-year old cousin when it came to sharing, sitting quietly at the table, and not, you know, punching people.
  • I’ll even forget about our covert forays into our room to mesmerize Boobaby with iPhone Sesame Street so we could force a little food into her distracted little body.

Yep, I’ll forget all those, erhrm, “vacation challenges.” But I won’t forget the synergy of the last night. The naked night.

* * *

In case you missed the news, we’ve been away at a lake resort in Minnesota for a week with a poker hand of relations: a pair of grandparents, a full house of uncles and aunts, and two hole-card cousins.

Boobaby found everything fascinating, and she spent the first several days flitting from lake to pool to playground in dreamy, distracted ecstasy. Everything was so wonderfully arranged that all we parents had to do was drop a suggestion — “Let’s go do art in the cabin!” — and she was into it.

The last night, though, the time for direction was over. Now, Boobaby and her 3-year old cousin would manufacture their own fun.

It started with acorns, really — they picked them up one by one and tossed them into the calm lake to hear the kerplunks. It was late but a summer full moon illuminated their game outside our cabin.

Before too long, the girls were removing their shoes and dipping their toes in the tolerably cool water. And then wading in up to their knees. And suddenly, in the very next frame on the quickly-erased home video, both girls had stripped down to nothing and were wandering the shore, holding hands.

Everybody breathe. Everybody relax. It’s 9 p.m. and your toddlers are naked and half-submerged in a lake, jumping and pulling up handfuls of mossy mud for fun.

Bedtime’s a non-issue. _Don’t do that_s and _You’ll get cold_s are meaningless. Soon enough the kids burst out of the water unbidden into the towels we held waiting, full of their exhilarated dreams, singing of fish and water ponies and god knows what else.

And that’s what vacation is for: it’s not following the resort activity calendar or prescribed games, but the discovery of what’s waiting beyond the routine. It took us all nearly a week to fully relax into it, and once we had, we turned around and came painfully home — but, like I said, I’ll forget that part.

That one night of the two self-made mermaids and the games they invented, though? That I’ll remember forever.