Monday, May 7, 2012

Heaven is totally for real...my kid saw it, too.

Every April our family ventures down to Hilton Head, South Carolina, home to more alligators than you can shake a stick at. Being avid fans of the TV program Swamp People, our contingent is more than happy to visit this piece of paradise.

After grabbing our bags at the Savannah Airport, we rolled up to the rental car desk, only to find the attendant apologetically handing us the keys to a rather large white transport van. Apparently they were overbooked on minivan rentals. And when I say large, transport van, it could easily shuttle a herd of sight-seeing wildebeests. I mean when you opened the thing, there were three full benches crammed into it, much like church pews. THREE benches. You needed a mega-horn to get the attention of passengers seated in the back. The only thing missing was a cage of chickens strapped to the roof.

Side note: we did go to exchange it the next day. For something smaller than a space shuttle. Upon arrival at the rental desk, my husband was handed our iPad. "Sorry, I had a look at your photos and totally recognized your kids. I think this is yours." Nothing like leaving your most expensive thing, other than your children, lying on the floor at the airport.

Here is (the rather unfortunate-looking) photo on our iPad screen-saver:


Yup. Those faces would be hard to miss. Thank you to the kind, honest people for returning it to us!

At any rate, we made it to Uncle Angus's house in one piece...Hilton Head, South Carolina is about an hour's drive from Savannah, Georgia. We peeled into his gated community and screeched onto his driveway on two wheels. At first glance at this unmarked white van in his driveway, Uncle Angus waved amiably at curious neighbours, who presumed we were members of a local drug cartel. They stood gawking whilst waiting for the doors to burst open, most certain that poor Uncle Angus would be taken out at the kneecaps and dragged into the van. When this didn't happen, and out instead popped three disgruntled children and four screaming adults, they u-turned their golf carts and lumbered back on towards the ninth hole. Incidentally, Uncle Angus did spend a good portion of the first hour pretending not to know us. To his credit, he wasn't expecting Dora, Diego and their possé of illegal Mexican immigrants for another hour.

As always, it was an extremely enjoyable week. There were cuddles, alligator hunts, and oh, the near drowning experience. Now for those of you who missed it, when James was only four months old, we nearly lost him to the forces of the Mediterranean Sea. (Read awful, sordid details here.) This time, it was our five year old. We're not incompetent parents. I swear. (A lot.)

We were all enjoying the warm afternoon - splashing in the pool, lounging on beach chairs, running after kids, changing soggy diapers, hiding any "floaters", praying that some other kid was misbehaving worse than ours - you know, the usual. Isla and Jack both had on these flotation devices with wings, (approved by the U.S. Coast Guards, I'll have you know...) hence securely bobbing the surface like empty Javex bottles. Roddy was playing with James, I was with Isla, and I thought Jack was still floating around the shallow end. Unbeknownst to me, Jack had convinced Roddy to let him take off his flotation device in exchange for one of those flutter boards.

Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I saw Uncle Tim barrelling to the side of the pool like an Olympic sprinter. He flew in, executing a near-perfect shallow dive/cannonball combo, right next to the no-diving sign. I remember giggling and thinking, "Oh, that Tim! Anything to make the kids laugh. He's such a good sport." Next thing I know, he comes flying to the surface with Jack under his arms, half-drowned, forlorn-looking as a motherless baby seal.

I was beside myself. I quickly wrapped Jack in a towel as he whimpered and sputtered and mewled. I told him I was so sorry that I hadn't been watching close enough, and that I was eternally grateful that Uncle Tim saw him and saved him before he drowned. At this point, Jack pulled his head up from my chest, turned to me and stated, "I did drown, Mommy. Three times before anyone got me." Then he lay his head back down on my chest and starting crying again. Ouch.

Later that night, Jack and I took a long, hot bath together. I kept staring at him, drinking him in, counting my blessings that he was alright. At some point during our bath, Jack turned to me and asked:

Jack: Mommy, what colour are spirits?
Me: (jolting upright, trying very hard to hide my excitement...) Why, did you see one? When you were drowning?
Jack: No. There were spirits on Transformers.
Me: Transformers? (WTF?) Don't you mean you saw them when you were drowning? (Cue feeble desperation on my part, as I could already taste my critically-acclaimed bestseller, a follow-up to that other kid's book, Heaven is for Real.)
Jack: No, Mom! It was on Transformers.
Me: Oh. Well, I guess spirits can be all sorts of colours.
Jack: Oh. Hey, guess what I was thinking when I was drowning?
Me: Oh my God! I knew it. (fumbling for pen...rather hard whilst in tub...) You saw heaven, didn't you? What did they say? I mean, sorry, what were you thinking?
Jack: I was thinking I shouldn't have let go of that board Daddy gave me. Then I wouldn't have drowned three times.
Me: Oh. That's true, Jack. Please don't ever take those water wings off again without being right beside Mommy or Daddy the whole time, OK? I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to you.
Jack: OK. Hey, Mom. Did you go to heaven?
Me: No, sadly not. One day though, Jack. One day we're all going back to heaven and we'll meet up there. It's going to be so cool.
Jack: Can we do whatever we want in heaven?
Me: Absolutely! What do you want to do?
Jack: Hmmm...I think I want to punch people in the face.
Me: You can't punch people in the face in heaven. My God. Why would you want to do that? (As I performed a rather hasty, "Satan be gone" exorcism behind his head.)
Jack: You just said I could do whatever I want. Punching people in the face would be so much fun!
Me: Fair enough. Punch away. (Mental note: book therapy session(s).)

To recap, the title of my next bestseller will be a toss between the following:
  1. Heaven is totally for real. My kid saw it, too. (My choice.)
  2. My parents are incompetent assholes. (Jack's choice.)
  3. In heaven, you can punch people in the face. (This title screams best-seller.)
I'll leave you with some photos that capture the highlights of our trip. Travelling, party of five. No entertainment required. We make up our own. xo

Jimmy Bean loving his window seat...

"This is super cool, Daddy..."
Please note I have no idea how to work Hipstamatic or Instagram,
hence the different photo lens. Jack totally hogs the iPad. In the off-chance
I do get to hold it, I'm completely flummoxed.


My little David Beckham. You can see Peanut in the far-left corner,
completely pissed as she discovers her cheap Dora backpack does not have wheels.



How we roll in airports. Wide berth, stroller packed with toys,
iPad convention being held in back row seats.


First alligator sighting...this beast had us fumbling for our treble-hooks.
OK, that'll be my last Swamp People reference. For this photo, anyway.

Peanut and her cousin Mara, holding hands
as they watch the alligator on the far bank.

 

Someone's sure proud to be pushing his baby brother.

Taking the dogs out for a walk with Auntie Betty.

 

I sure love it here!

 

Even when he's horsing around, James always keeps an eye
out to make sure Mommy's around to save him if need be. That's my boy!

 

Grandpa, Daddy, Jack and Isla...

 

Jack and Grandpa doing Lord knows what...

 

Hands held high, ready to race down the hill!

 

Daddy preparing Jack for the "speed roll" down the hill...

 

Peanut informed me she wanted to run like "Spirit".
Did she see heaven, I asked, breathless with excitement?
She just stared at me. Hard. Like I'd dropped from planet Jupiter.
Jack then told me that she was running like Spirit, the horse, from that movie. Whatever.

 

A little glimpse of paradise...

 

Thank you to Uncle Angus and Auntie Betty for moving here. What a place!

 

This photo is odd for a few reasons. I was told by Jack to "crouch like
a soldier on a mission to hunt alligators..." as he captured this photo. I'm not
sure why my shirt seems to be hanging down in front like a butcher's cape,
nor can I understand why my thighs appear toned and muscular. Odd. But I'll take it.

Jack and Mommy...my brave little soldier.

Jimmy Bean hanging out with Uncle Angus.
That there grin is pure love, baby...

 

Jack making his way down to the ocean...

 

James's first brush with the shores of the mighty Atlantic! He loved it.

Isla and her Daddy...

Be still my beating heart. Why is it that
I suddenly got a glimpse of her as a long-legged teenager?

 

Jack having a blast in the waves!
Heading out "shark hunting"...
I think it's time we introduce him to the movie JAWS.
Too soon?

 
James fooling around on the deck as I lounged nearby on a beach chair.
He was pushing that stroller back and forth, apparently a little too close to the shrubs for some.
At one point, some dude from the towel cabana (which you can see in the upper left-hand side),
shouted out, "HEY! WHO'S WATCHING THAT BABY!!!"
Lord, is that a white pebble in his mouth? My poor little orphan.
Jack catching a photo of Auntie Fiona, Lila, Daddy and Peanut.

 

Yowzers. Here's a family photo for the books. Jack staring at the parrots,
James starting at Jack, Daddy looking at Isla, Isla glaring at Mommy. I can already
hear my Mom, "For heaven's sake. Cut that poor girl some bangs!"
Need I remind her what happened last time. See next photo for butcher job by Auntie
when Isla was only 11-months old. It looks like she was being prepped for brain surgery.








This ordeal deserves it's own blog post. Stay tuned...


Me and my Jimmy...I cut the one-eyed Captain out of the photo.
My husband has a hard time with digital flashes, not to mention sunlight.
Vampire?

 

James is fascinated by this contraption...
Uncle Tim and Jack, patiently waiting for the big bite...

 

Yippee!!! Daddy and Jack caught a fish! It scared the crap out of Isla,
who ran screaming, dragged James out of the stroller, and strapped herself in.
Apparently the fish was "gonna bite her."









James getting punted from the stroller...



A little too close to the edge...
I think I may need to get her legs checked out...

Waiting for the pirate boat to dock. And yes. I was asked by
several people what sport I was representing for the Olympics.
Had a hard time responding through my mouthful of Doritos.

 

We had just seen a grotesque water moccasin snake, hence
our squealing like school girls when Daddy told us
to sit on the grass for a photo.


 

Peanut and Mommy sharing a moment...

Jack taking some shots of Mommy and Jimmy...

 

Did I mention I'm an Olympian? As I stumble to put
out my cigarette...kidding people. Ahem.

 

Someone was 100% certain that Mommy was her horsey for the day...

 

When Mommy dropped (to do 50 push-ups) at the side of the road,
Daddy took over the duties.

This was Isla's face when I informed her it was Jack's turn
to go on Daddy's shoulders.
That's not happiness to see me, is it?

 

This photo taken moments after Isla is peeled from Daddy's shoulders...
she is screaming like she's being disemboweled by an alligator.
Ironically, it made for a cute photo. From the back.
Seriously. She's mid-scream here...
just taking in air for the next mouth-to-the-sky howl.
It makes me laugh that the picture looks so serene.
Auntie Fiona, Isla, Lila and Grandma having a girl chat...
Uncle Tim and Jack up close and personal with a butterfly...
oh, and that pretty little no diving sign.

 

Master James wasn't too sure of the water at first...

 

He continued to give evil glares to no one in particular...

 

Jack making fun of Uncle Tim playing his game on the iPad...
that, and pure relief that he survived drowning. Three times.







2 comments:

Michelle Hatzel said...

As always, fun reading your blog. You have some beautiful kids there, Janita.

Michelle Hatzel said...

As always, fun reading your blog. You have some beautiful kids there, Janita.

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