Monday, July 23, 2007

Of Mosquitoes, Cape Cod and Family Vacation Adventures

I stopped counting at 30.

Bug bites, that is.

It’s hard to enjoy a family vacation by the shores of Cape Cod when you’re busy scratching at bug bites. And pulling a tick out of your youngest son’s curly hair.

While my family of five did enjoy our vacation week — frolicking in the ocean, making a Harry Potteresque-Hogwarts’ sand castle (the kids actually thought they could keep high tide at bay with a series of crude moats), ambling around various downtowns (Wellfleet, Provincetown, Chatham), playing a Mulligan-filled round of mini-golf, sitting on whoopee cushions (purchased at the mini-golf course’s arcade, however the first cushion popped, then the replacement one popped, then I foolishly bought three more), seeing “Ratatouille,” and catching a Cape Cod League baseball game – my personal experience was marred by insects.

At one point, after counting the dozens of bug bites Abbey and I sustained (Casey collected a fair number as well), I became fearful that our rental unit had either bed bugs or fleas. So, under cover of darkness, The Spouse and I inspected all the beds and bedrooms in the beam of a flashlight, and then later inspected the beds and rooms under the full glare of the lamp light as well as in natural light. We found nothing, and assumed that we’d simply been beset by evil, nocturnal mosquitoes.

Throw in the fact that my parents – who were staying in the same Cape Cod town but in a different rental unit – found a live tick crawling through Casey’s hair, and I began feeling itchy all the time. (Reminded me of the nightmare that came home from school with one of the kids earlier this year: Head lice.)

Thankfully, The Spouse could sense my extreme discomfort and agreed to leave a night early. At 10 p.m. When we arrived home – at 12:30 a.m. – we showered all the kids, put our pillows in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes, and finally got to sleep at 2:30. And blissfully slept all the way through the night, awaking with no new bug bites.

But, all things considered, this vacation wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, in spite of the fact that my father probably re-injured his knee (on which he’d recently had surgery) by walking around on it prematurely on beaches and through the streets of Provincetown in the pouring rain, and in spite of the fact that the slip-cover on the sofa and the rug in one of the bedrooms in our rental unit stunk of unpleasant odors, odors that were impervious to repeated applications of Febreeze.

I wrote an essay for the forthcoming August issue of Parents and Kids – which is now posted on the publication’s web site– advising folks to expect the worst on their family vacations, and then, if they’re lucky, the vacation won’t be as bad as they feared. This vacation wasn’t as bad as the one I had when I was a teenager, where my blind, feeble family dog fell off a deck, broke all her legs and had to be put to sleep, plus the fact that my brother’s leg cast practically melted off his leg after he swam in the ocean with the cast covered by a trash bag. Or the get-away vacation The Spouse and I took with our then-infant twins who rendered us sleepless and covered us with various bodily fluids as we tried to keep them quiet in our very small room at a New Hampshire inn where we were staying.

At least this year, the only thing with which I had to cope was bug bites.

(Image from this web site.)

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