My kids love to road trip. If, for example, I said “soccer tournament at the beach,” one of them would head right to the garage for the boogie boards and that giant red shovel we bought one year at Sunsations. The other one would make a playlist.
Last Friday we were set to go to the Sand Duels soccer tournament in Ocean City. Doyle’s teammates wisely left Thursday night. We were going to leave after school, because I was being my teacher self: We were not missing any school days for a soccer tournament. It’s not an excused absence, and I have already received one letter from Doyle’s school asking if I was aware of all of his actual, excused absences for the year, a number in the neighborhood of 12 or so.
And that was an absence or two ago.
(For the record, I am completely aware. I was the one, in most of those cases, who had to take off a day’s work to care for Young Mr. Virus. But hey, I appreciate that they checked.)
So, no early departures for us …
Except it’s hurricane season and there was the small matter of Tropical Storm Andrea churning it’s way up the coast and on tap to unleash its wet fury on the Delmarva peninsula around 4 p.m. on Friday, you know, the exact time we would have hit the drive-through Starbucks near our house and cranked up the iPod.
Welcome to living on the East Coast.
I pulled the kids out of school early. Soccer tournaments are not excusable, but in my mind weather emergencies are.
We left at noon and drove through rain nearly the whole time, bands of heavy, ground-smacking rain that would give away to a calm and bright cloudiness the sun kept trying to break through.
Wipers. Sunglasses. Wipers. Sunglasses. For five hours.
Yep, a three-hour drive took five hours, and the road was full of travelers trying to outrun Andrea. In addition to the soccer tournament, a lacrosse tournament, a basketball tournament, an air show, and a car show were held at the beach this weekend. And it was Senior Week for many high school graduates.
In the small town of Cambridge, I was thankful for every green light because there was just enough water on the road that I didn’t want to stop.
But we made it.
The skies were actually clearer at the beach, we checked into the hotel, went out for crabs, and began what turned into a great weekend.
Soccer tournaments like these are something of a reunion, and the team parents got to joking about who would run into the most people they knew. The celebratory atmosphere grew as our team, The Shockwave, won game after game. Some of the boys haven’t played together in a while, but they fell in like a seasoned team and easily out-passed their opponents.
The weather remained on our radar — Leeannah thought she would test out the ocean water between her brother’s games. She went farther out than I had wanted her to and seconds later, she was a block away, tugged by an undertow. I started running down the beach, following her, when a lifeguard surpassed me and got in the water to guide her out.
Never realizing that she was in danger, she looked at the man with the whistle around his neck and called to me, “Is he a lifeguard? Who is he?”
You know, if your teenaged daughter is in danger, it’s sometimes best if she doesn’t know.
Here’s another nugget of advice: Wet sand is worse than dry sand. You heard it here first. I know this because it was in my bag, my hair, my teeth, my wallet, and even in the bottom of the cup holder in my car after Saturday’s games.
Every child playing on Saturday looked like he had to go to the bathroom because he was constantly adjusting. That was the sand.
I am still finding sand as I type this, and I felt a bit like the kid that comes in from the yard covered in head-to-toe mud and you know that kid had a good time playing, because there was evidence to prove it.
Then, at the start of our team’s third game, everything turned monsoon. No lightning or thunder meant that the game went on, and we parents huddled together under two tents to cheer our boys on to a big victory in the deluge. My son, the goalie, actually was put in on the offense and scored himself a hat trick he will remember forever.
Who would have thought taking cover under a tent would have led the best moments of the day, but to me, they did.
It was a crazy, wet, one-of-a-kind afternoon.
And the only complaint my kids had once we got back home to Baltimore – our weekend at the beach was too short.