Last week, I got a text message from my cousin, L: "We're heading to my mom's house in Rehoboth Beach. Do you want to come meet us there?"
I have six first cousins, on my father's side. I used to have seven, but one died six weeks before my wedding. Our parents are all very close, and as such,w e grew up very close as well. We saw each other frequently, and our families all vacationed together. Now, we are spread all over the country, and I miss my cousins in ways I can't even describe. Usually, I only see them at weddings (the older generation of my family has not yet started to die off, fortunately, so there have been no funerals in the mix, aside from the aforementioned cousin). The last time I saw them was over a year ago, at the wedding of the youngest cousin.
So, my response, after squeeing a bit, was HELL, YEAH! Darrel couldn't get off work at such short notice, so, on Sunday morning, I packed up, threw Frank in the car with a bunch of toys, books, and snacks, and set off for Rehoboth Beach.
Frank had never met my cousins. Frank had never slept in the same room as, well, anyone. The last time Frank was on a beach (Rehoboth, actually), it was for the Vacation We Pretend Never Happened. Frank was miserable all week that time- he was too hot, the sand was too hot, the ocean was too loud and too scary, the sand itched everywhere it touched him...you name it, he complained about it. Darrel was unhappy, because he loves the beach, and wa sincredibly disappointed Frank seemed to hate it. I was unhappy because I like being on the go and seeing new things on a vacation, not sitting on a beach for a week doing nothing.
So, while I drove, and Frank occupied himself by singing and playing with his toys, I worried. We were only going for less than 48 hours. How bad could it all be?
Okay, now that the SPD mommies have all stopped laughing at that one. ;)
Actually...it turned out great!! Cousin J has two children: G, a son, is just over a year older than Frank. E, a daughter, is two. L, her older sister, was also there, and my aunt and my aunt's second husband, the owners of the house, were there as well.
Frank and G hit it off immediately. An hour after meeting, they were sitting curled up in a chair together, watching TV. They ran around doing all kinds of things together. When we went to the boardwalk that evening, they rode all kinds of rides together. They even slept in the same room together! (I had brought the crib mattress Frank sleeps on, as well as all his "buddies"- stuffed animals- and set everything up exactly as it was at home. We set the crib mattress up on the floor in G's room.) The boys didn't get to sleep until around 10:30pm Sunday night. Their room was right across from mine, so I was able to hear them whispering to each other. It was very cute, and made me smile a lot. (J and I are only months apart, and we slept over each others' house frequently when we were growing up.)
Monday, we went to the beach. Frank willingly let me lube him up with sunscreen, which alone is an improvement over the beginning of summer- he complained about how cold it was, and it smelled, and it felt funny on his skin. Monday, though, he simply stood there, chatting with G, while I did so.
To sum up, this time, Frank loved the beach! he played in the sand with G, and went in the water with the grownups. He had a bit of a scare early on, when he went charging into the water to get some in a bucket for the sand castle he and G were building, and actually went under. But L was right there and grabbed him immediately, and, after I got his face dried off and calmed him down, he went right back to the water's edge! I almost cried, I was so happy that day. When we went back to the car, he had sand everywhere, and never mentioned it at all. He bathed with G, and we ate dinner and put the kids to bed early.
Tuesday morning, Frank and I had to leave- he had a 3pm appointment for OT, and I of course did not want to miss it. We hugged everyone, said good bye, and hit the road.
Not only was it great to see my cousins unexpectedly, but it was also nice from a different perspective: once I had explained the exact nature of Frank's SPD, and the types of problems he tended to have, and everyone asked the questions they had, that was it. It was all No Big Deal. When we ate, they'd ask what Frank wanted to eat, but it was very much in the same way they'd ask anyone, not in that "what does your strange child with his strange eating ways want to eat" tone I often hear. I had forgotten how relaxing it could be, just hanging with family, listening to kids running around playing, and not having a care in the world.