We caught a short, early summer vacation last week. All I wanted was simple quiet for a few days. I found an original "Cape Cod beach cottage" in South Yarmouth. The little cottage hadn't been touched structurally since it had been built in the 40's or 50's. The black vinyl "46" on the door frame was anchored above a painted-over "9." While the other cottages had been built around, up, or over, ours sat a bit curmudgeonly on a corner lot. To all that fluff around it: Bah humbug. It was still "9."
The charmed simple pine wood walls were dotted with original windows. Each had a one pull/push peg hold-and-lock system. Up for a breeze & down for warmth. The old painted wood floors, area rugs, and vinyl rang out, "I'm OK with sand."
Weeks before the trip, I made a decision: This was going to be an electronics-free trip. I confided in Bill. "Good luck with that." (He wasn't coming down until the last half of the week.) I shared the plan with Will a few days before. After a couple moments to process: "OK. I can do that." I told Liam an hour before we left... "What?!?!"
I packed the van to the gills with building blocks, craft supplies, swords and shields, and books. Drawing paper, beach gear, puzzles, and books. A magic kit, coolers of food, pantry goods, and books. Toilet paper, soap, clothes, and books.
I didn't pack computers or iPods. I didn't turn on the GPS as we left our house. The boys had maps of the Cape and written directions. Once in South Yarmouth, their voices navigated me to the cottage.
That evening, we each carved out a niche, and we read. The calm. The next morning, more of the same. Why did it feel so relaxing?
Mid-week, I figured it out. Leaving electronics at home meant there was an omission of relentless, needling questions: "When can I get on?" "It's 8 a.m., can I play now?" "How long can I play?" "Why won't you let me play more?" "Can I play in the morning and then again in the afternoon?"
This electronics-driven sub-language wasn't spoken for a week. That quiet lull was bliss.
(More about this place: The Beach Cottage.)