Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Notes From A Trip, Part I

Baroy helps me put the kids to bed on the first night of the cruise. I am far from having found my sea legs, and all I want to do is go to sleep, so I suggest he go out and check out the casino, have a drink at one of the bars, listen to the band play, whatever.

“All right, I’m off,” he says, fumbling with a few things, gathering up his key card, his wallet. Then I hear a clink, and see a band of metal bounce off the dresser and hit the carpet. He picks it up and starts to put it in the room safe.

“Hold on a minute,” I say, laughing incredulously. “Tell me you didn’t just take off your wedding ring on your way out of the room to check out the night life on our cruise ship.”

He looks at his hand, at the ring, at me. “I always take off...I wasn’t trying...” he trails off, laughing. “This looks a lot worse than it is.”

What it must be like to be N. All day, people smiling at him, giggling at him, outright laughing at him. At one point, after yet another woman had come over to comment on just how adorable and funny and good (a momentary lapse, of course) he was, he sighed and looked at me wearily. “Not another one,” he said. “How come everyone always thinks I’m so cute?"

Em is, rightfully I must admit, beginning to get sick of all the N-love. I could tell her that she got a good four or five years of this same treatment herself, when people at Disneyland would stop us to talk about how bright and mature and funny our little girl was (right there in the Land of Children, which I thought to be quite the coup). But that would only serve to make her more resentfuly. Luckily, there are some special moments for her in this trip, moments that are hers alone. Our maitre d’, for instance, dotes on her, calling her by name and insisting on hugs before she leaves dinner each night. And when she’s alone with one or the other of us, she still attracts attention: her level of maturity, her vocabulary, her sweetness shine through.

But I can see her changing, losing the capacity for pure joy that she used to have, and I think that’s what’s making me sad this trip. Everything has a down side: the pools are filled with salt water, which stings her eyes and gets in her mouth; the daycamp counselors won't give her free choice, and she doesn’t like the games they offer; and this afternoon, she was feeling all hot and sweaty on the tender boat back to our ship, and so was pouty and irritable, despite having just spent two hours alone with her dad, on her first-ever snorkeling trip.

And the worst part? I can’t just make it stop by giving her a talking to, or by telling her to cut it out. She is only going to become more disagreeable by the year. They’re ending, the happy-girl days. Which pretty much means I’m on the fast track to kissing the happy-mom days goodbye as well.

Hang on, kiddo. We’re about to hit some rough seas, and I can only hope that I’ve given you what you need to find your way to the calmer waters on the other side.

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