“I want to take Philip to the lake,” Peter said.
It was shortly before Independence Day when Peter first shared this desire with me. I mentally cringed.
“Are you sure?” This is probably one of the dumbest questions people ask. What it really means is, “I know your sure, but I don’t agree” or “I don’t want to believe you” or “I have no desire to agree with your statement and hope asking this seemingly benign question will somehow influence you to change your mind.”
“Yeah,” Peter responded. “I think Philip would really like it.”
I knew that Peter was right. Philip loves water, so why wouldn’t he like playing at the beach along the lake?
We used to live minutes away from Lake Erie in a suburb of Cleveland. Back then we took Philip to the beach a few times, but not in weather conducive to getting in the water. On our previous trips he seemed fascinated with watching the water crash on the shore. I didn’t doubt that Philip would have a good time if we visited again, but I was less certain that I would enjoy the experience. I was thinking back to the sandy mess that resulted. Before, we weren’t far from home and the ability to rinse off and change clothes. Our current residence isn’t as close, so I would have to plan for a change of diaper and clothes without the convenience of just going home.
I managed to put off Peter by reminding him that he hates crowds.
“Don’t you think the lake is going to be crowded for the holiday weekend? Especially in this weather?”
Peter conceded, but didn’t forget. Each subsequent weekend, he would ask me if we had any plans. Sometimes we did have activities scheduled, other times the cool or rainy weather was in my favor.
Finally, I realized I needed to get past my concerns. So when Peter suggested we go to the lake this Saturday, I consented.
Our first stop was our friend’s service station. We had a quick visit with Nick during which Philip had a grand time playing with wrenches. Soon, it was time to change my little grease monkey into his swim diaper and trunks. After some protests over this, we were driving the short distance to a park close to the house where Peter grew up.
Philip got cranky when we made him put down his milk to get of the car, but calmed down once he caught sight of the water. Philip ran straight to the water and squealed with delight when he took his first step into the lake. As he made his way parallel to the beach through the ankle-deep shallows by the shore, he stumbled into the brisk water and was briefly immersed. The cold shocked him, but he immediately laughed and continued on his way.
Our trip to the lake was everything I dreaded, yet still worth it. We were fortunate that the beach only had a handful of visitors, so we hadn’t had to fight any crowds. I had changed into an old pair of sneakers that I didn’t mind getting wet yet would provide could traction for chasing Philip. However, even though I didn’t wear my dressiest pair of capris, I really wasn’t clad for wading into the water to retrieve our little explorer. A series of rocks created a natural barrier to the lake, but there were gaps. Philip gravitated to these, curious about what was beyond. Plus, he fearlessly climbed up on the moss-covered rocks. I had to fetch him, and he slip, unharmed, as he turned back to the beach.
Philip gleefully splashed in the water and dug his fingers into the sand. Yet, he couldn’t resist his compulsion to return to the rocks. After repeatedly retrieving him, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him. The only thing scarier than have my little guy who doesn’t know how to swim escaping into the deeper section of lake was the guy walking on the beach wearing only a thong.
We were at a park with beach access, so I suggested we take Philip up to the play area. Philip protested the whole way, straining to turn around and play in the water. When we got up to the playground, I let go of Philip’s hand. He ran up to the stairs that led to the slide. However, he had an excellent view of the lake from that vantage point, so he turned around and ran back toward the stairs to the beach.
When it became obvious that Philip only wanted to play in the lake, and that the temperatures were only going to get hotter, we led a protesting toddler to the car. He cried as I removed his sandy sandals and wet swim trunks. I changed him out of his swim diaper, but he had no patience for me to take off his wet shirt or to put on dry shorts. He rode home in his diaper.
While I don’t regret our drive north, I think Peter understood why I had hesitated each time he had asked about a trip to the lake. He did joke about our visit later.
“Come here Philip,” I said after we arrived home.
“What are you doing?” Peter asked.
“I need to take off his wet shirt,” I replied.
“I don’t know why you threw our son in the lake,” was his teasing response.
“Hey, honey,” I should have replied, “go jump in a lake.”