(If you have never read “Breakfast Smoothies” you might want to read the short introductory page. Explanations about the most blatant lies usually follow the essay.)
Jennifer’s niece, Pollyanna, is a very precocious five-year old. She was staying the weekend and Jennifer, my neighbor, asked me to take her to the beach while she went to the doctor. She told me it would only be for an hour.
While we sipped our Beach Smoothies at breakfast in the garden I was telling Ben and Erica about my latest quest in child development.
Sunscreen applied, I had not said anything except the occasional open-ended question. Pollyanna kept the conversation lively while we sprawled in knee-deep light surf.
She showed me how she could float, told me all about her mother’s latest boy-friends, and continued a running commentary on the sea shells, the beach combers, and the tourists going by. I let her entertain herself and me while I made sure she didn’t drowned or get sunburned.
After about an hour, Jennifer joined us.
“Do you have enough sunscreen on? I moved your towels for you; we don’t want to get ticks or sand fleas on them, do we? You’re not getting sunburned, are you, Pollyanna? Are you in over your head? We don’t want to drowned now, do we? Are you getting water in your eyes? If you hold that tube under both arms, it will hold you up better. Careful, you don’t want to hit anyone with it. Look out! Is that a jellyfish? Ok, no throwing sand. Look at that beautiful cloud. Doesn’t it just make you wonder about our place in the universe? We have such responsibility.”
Pollyanna and I looked at each other. She rolled her eyes and gave me the “what am I supposed to do with adults” look.
Jennifer continued nonstop. “Maybe we should go over to the playground for a break. Dry off now. Here, don’t let the towel drop into the water. Try to get your flip-flops on without getting sand on your feet. Don’t get your shirt wet.”
Pollyanna looked at me and sighed. We were trapped.
“We can only spend about fifteen minutes at the play area. I think the equipment is too hot, anyway. You don’t want to burn your little behind on the slide. (Was she talking to me?) Do you have enough sunscreen? That swing is very hot. Don’t push the merry-go-round too fast. That’s the thing that George broke his arm on – he fell off that ladder. Don’t swing too high. Lots of this equipment is just too dangerous for a five year old. Do we need insect spray? It’s very hot. We should go before we get sunstroke. Is that a snake over there? Did you bring water? Not those plastic bottles. In this heat the plastic melts and gets into your system. Here, let me strap you into the car seat. Oh, it’s hot in here. Drink some more water.”
Strapped in behind the wheel she turned to us. “Well. Did we have fun?”