We just got home from a family trip to St Lucia (hence no blog post last week.) It was a phenomenal trip full of family fun time, exploring, meeting fabulous people, eating and drinking, and relaxing – we’ll have memories to reminisce about for the rest of our lives. So this blog is dedicated to that trip (I didn’t have any other ideas) – but I didn’t want to just write about it. I went through our pictures and picked out a few. Not necessarily the best ones, but the ones that I thought would be the most fun to write about. Enjoy…
OUR TRIP TO ST LUCIA
Zoe met this baby in the pool. She loved pulling her around in her floatie. Moments after this picture was taken, she decided to turn the baby around. By her head.
What is this, you ask? Bat Crack!!! It’s a picture of a crack in a mountain that leads to a cave. And when I took this picture, the bats inside that crack were making all kinds of noise. It was cool, but does bat noise make this a cool picture? No. Without sound, it’s just a picture of a crack. Though I did center it really well.
One of Chloe’s goals was to make a lot of friends. She used her mom’s tried-and true-method: Go up to someone, introduce yourself, and then ask them their name. She did this time and time again and made approximately 1.8 billion friends. It was pretty amazing to watch. She was the little friend collector.
This a picture of a flower that I took at the Botanical Gardens. I don’t know what kind of flower it is, only that it’s pretty and I took a nice picture of it. This picture is important because it was taken when Chloe and I lagged behind the rest of the group to take “super-secret plant pictures” off the path, which may be breaking international law.
This is Zoe crying. Is it because she has sunburn? No. Is it because a coconut fell on her head? Is it because we wouldn’t let her continue holding our camera and taking pictures of random things like her leg? No . . . wait, yes it was. This scene played out many times during our trip. Many, many times.
Every Tuesday and Saturday, local St. Lucians would come to the resort to sell various crafts. I became obsessed with a certain mask made by Ivan, who had a mustache and sang. I planned to buy the mask, but because of a mistake at the ATM, I was short on US dollars (I had none) and the Eastern Caribbean dollars I had weren’t enough to buy the mask and a few gifts for others. So I settled for a cool wooden machete instead. But when I paid Ivan for the machete, he gave me the mask pictured here, with its reverse tear drop pattern. It wasn’t the mask that I’d been planning to buy, but it was better. Because it was a gift.
This is after we mudded ourselves all up using mud from a volcano. It’s supposed to take 10 years off your age or something. We had a blast doing it, and it was the highlight of our awesome excursion. Though I feel that if aliens had been watching us do this, they would’ve have questioned whether we were worth invading. Speaking of questions, how did I miss that much of the left side of my neck and shoulders? Now, when I look in the mirror, that spot clearly looks 10 years older than the rest of me.
This is a donkey, one of five who lived out in the field behind our hotel. They gleefully served as our wakeup call every morning at 3:30, 4:15, and 5:30. I tried to take a selfie with this one but failed rather miserably. I did get a lick on the hand and a nuzzle, though, so I consider that a win.
This was our excursion group. Together, we went snorkeling, mud bathing, and seeing the sights of St. Lucia. None of us knew each other before, but after the tour, we became fast friends and spent time together the rest of the trip. This is a rare occurrence for me because I’m not one to go out of my way to meet new people. Why was this time different? I learned by watching the example of our eight-year-old daughter.
I took this picture as I was working on my new pirate play outside. Why? Because on my list of things to do on this trip, I had written “Write while watching the sun rise and take a picture of it.” Done.
This is our first family selfie. We were all drinking out of the same coconut. You say you can’t see the coconut? That may be true, but I assure you it’s there. You may also note that Zoe’s straw is not in her mouth. That’s really okay, though, because she tends to backwash.
So there they are. 11 pictures from our trip to St. Lucia. There are many more but some hard decisions had to be made about which ones to include and which ones to cut. The hardest cut? Zoe's montage of pictures that she took without us knowing. What were they pictures of? Her leg. 11 pictures. Of her leg. The right one.
When we were kids, my older brother could be classified as a really good brother. When I was a baby, he would give me the toy he was playing with if I wanted it. Later, he let me tag along with him and his friends even though it wasn’t the cool thing to do. And when I was in 9th grade and trying out for the baseball team, he threatened to beat up the entire team when their intense mocking left me in tears at home one night. But this post is not about the goodness of Chris. It’s about something different.
It’s about how he did a typical big-brother thing over and over again and how some years later, I got my revenge.
You see, growing up, Chris seemed to relish scaring me when I was asleep. It wasn’t a nightly thing (that would have been weird), but it was pretty consistent. He got in trouble for it, but when has getting in trouble stopped a kid from doing something they enjoyed that didn’t really cause any long-term pain or suffering? He would take his punishment, whatever it was, wait a couple of days, and then strike again when I was in my glorious slumber, happily dreaming of my close friends at the time: the Care Bears. “How did he scare you?” you ask in a questioning voice.
One way would be to crawl under my bed, after I had been asleep for quite a while, and punch the underside of the bed. This would cause me to wake up, scream, and run into my mom and dad’s room as Chris laughed. Other times, he would get really close to me as I slept and stare. Intently. Then he would whisper my name. I would wake up, scream, and run into my mom and dad’s room as Chris laughed.
The thing he did the most, though, was to pile up all of the contents of my room on me quietly while I slept. I remember one time distinctly because that night, in my dreams, I was being attacked by those furry little turncoats – the Care Bears – who had apparently turned against me. After one particularly vicious attack, I tossed violently in bed, causing an avalanche of stuff to hit the floor. I screamed, jumped out of bed, tripped over the stuff that was now on the floor, and ran into my mom and dad’s room. All the while, I heard Chris laughing over the sweet tunes of his Shaun Cassidy album.
I dreamed of revenge, and although I attempted it many times, it never worked. Until one glorious Halloween night when I was 16 and he was 20.
Chris had been really sick for a couple of days. Perhaps it was malaria, typhoid, the bubonic plague or some other kind of ancient disease. I don’t remember. But I do remember that he had been sleeping all day. I was working at Kroger that night until around 11, and just as I was leaving, I saw it. An ALF mask. A spectacular ALF mask. I knew instantly that it wasn’t just a mask . . . it represented my chance at ultimate revenge.
I drove home, happily listening to a mix tape that I had made featuring Glenn Medeiros, The Boys Club, and Toto. Did I mention how cool I was at 16? Anyway, all the lights were out when I arrived home. Everyone was asleep. Perfect. I silently opened the door, locked it behind me, and put on my mask. I laughed under my breath as I stealthily moved to Chris’s room.
I got to his door and listened. I could hear him snoring. I looked to my parents’ room and heard Yoda speaking, which is what my dad’s snoring always sounded like to me. Everything was just right. I prepared (as all actors should), took a deep breath, slammed open the door, and flipped on the lights, yelling . . .
“CHRIS, I’M COMING FOR YOU!!!”
Chris’s eyes shot open as he saw an alien life form in a Kroger apron – which, looking back, I should have taken off. But I guess the apron didn’t lessen the effect at all, because he leapt to his feet, stood on his bed, and shrank as far away from me as possible. He was terrified. He then screamed, louder than I’ve ever heard him . . .
“Please! No! Don’t hurt me!”
At that point, I took off the mask, laughing. My parents came rushing in, thinking that something terrible had happened. No, something terrible hadn’t happened. Something magical had. They were all furious at me, but I knew that sooner or later, we’d all have a good laugh about this.
And as I lay in bed that night, moments after being put on restriction, having to apologize to the family, and being forced to return the ALF mask, I smiled. Not in a demented way, but a satisfied one. Knowing that I had redeemed a little boy who had been scared to go to sleep. Oh yeah, I had also gotten a story that I could tell forever (perhaps at a rehearsal dinner) and one day blog about many years later.
I slept peacefully that night. I don’t recall what I dreamed about, but I’m sure it involved the Care Bears. Not being terrifying (as Care Bears sometimes are), but frolicking merrily with me in Care-A-Lot.
More specifically, she ran for one of two student council representative spots for her 3rd grade class.
She told me on our walk home from school one day. Her 2-year-old sister was in the stroller pointing out every house that she saw by saying “This
. . . a house,” and Chloe was on her 14th story about her day only three minutes into our walk. It was delightful and quite impressive. Apparently, 3rd graders don’t have to breathe when they’re telling 14 stories in a row.
Then she told me that she was running for student council.
I would like to say that I instantly said something like “That’s awesome!” or “Cool!” or even something remotely clever. But I didn’t. I was silent.
Chloe, of course, was unaware of this silence because she, as if alone on stage with the spotlight upon her, was performing the world’s greatest soliloquy about . . . well, I wasn’t really sure. But I was glad she kept talking because I was lost in my own thoughts about what she just told me. And how I didn’t want her to run.
Because if she ran, she could lose. Then she’d come face to face with the reality that sometimes, no matter how hard you work or how much you want something, you still don’t get it. And then Chloe would become an adult without any hopes or aspirations because I let both get crushed in the 3rd grade. If that sounds overly dramatic, know that I’m aware of that fact and I, at the time, was fully embracing my overreaction. At that point, unknown to Chloe, I had decided that I wasn’t going to let her run. I was going to protect her from the possible disappointment and hurt by not allowing her the opportunity to be hurt.
And right before I opened my mouth, I remembered a time when Chloe was learning to ride her bike. She was pretty awful, as we are with anything that we’re learning, and as she rode down the trail, she lost control and went into a ditch. I ran to catch up and found her crying against a tree. I helped her up and retrieved her bike. She had gotten pretty scraped up. After some tears, hugs, and water, I asked if she wanted to walk her bike home instead of riding it.
She looked at me as if I were crazy and said: “Daddy, you always said the best thing you can do when you fall off your bike is to get back on.” And then she did. She biked all the way home. And she still talks about that moment to this day.
So I wondered, why was this student council thing any different? Because it wasn’t about her. It was about me. And my insecurities.
When I was a kid, and even as an adult, there have been times that I chose to stay on the sidelines because I was scared of what might happen if I took a chance and put myself out there. I just didn’t want to lose, be embarrassed, or be found out as a fraud. Now that I’m older, those fears, though present, don’t dictate my life like they used to.
And as parents, one of our most important jobs is not to burden our kids with our “issues.” (Of note, I don’t consider my passing on of my extreme dislike for bread-and-butter pickles to Chloe a bad thing. They are terrible. Long live the dill.) Kids will develop enough issues on their own over time, so it doesn’t seem fair to give them ours too. Maggie and I, as parents, had agreed a long time ago that we wouldn’t do that. And now, presented with the opportunity, I had to make a choice.
As soon as Chloe finally paused for a breath, I told her I was proud of her and wished her good luck in the election. That day, she came home and started putting her campaign together. She decided on her platform, made a sweet poster, and got her speech ready. Throughout the process, she got increasingly excited and ran a really good and strong campaign. Then the vote came.
She did not win.
After school that day, she was disappointed. As I held her hand, we talked about how she had done her best and that sometimes you’re not going to come out on top. And that’s okay. She told me she congratulated the winners and then asked if it was all right if she was sad and maybe even a little jealous. I told her that of course it was. Then we talked about how many times my plays have been rejected, and that the best thing to do is to keep working hard and putting yourself out there. She smiled and then told me something that made me happy and extremely proud.
She told me she was looking forward to running again next year.
She had climbed out of the ditch and was ready to ride again. She really deserved the ice cream she got that night.
Here it is. Steven's blog, where his thoughts about things are revealed. Good luck.