Imagining Perfection

Hearts beat as one. Beach, cold fog drifts in, comes in waves, Ice Cold from the Pacific blows in our faces, it chills our skin, I see goose bumps on Fiona’s girl baby legs. I think to myself, but out loud, “And this is the one time I leave all the warm changes of clothes in the back of the car all the way back through the sand, up the hill, and across the terrifying road. “Jack and Fiona this is a VERY dangerous stretch of road. You could get hit.” I wonder how am I going to carry the picnic lunch, the beach towels, blanket, sand toys, floaties, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, hats, waters, and purse. I put both babies in the wagon and strap them in, pull it across the street, in between fast cars and carry three bags. We pick a spot, noticing a gazillion people to the left we go right. Jacks in regular form, he dumps out his bag of excavators by the little stream and starts playing. Fiona joins in after a few minutes. Jacks not affected by the cold gusts of fog. I watch them, squatting, touching the sand, water, using little plastic blue and red shovels, green buckets, a yellow toy excavator and dump truck. Little tiny excavators too. Fiona runs into the stream and falls face first. She jumps up and cries, face red, a cold burst of wind hits her, she looks at me, I run over, grab her with a towel warm from the sun, I take off all her wet clothes and diaper and redress her, covering with the towel. Jack comes over and we eat seaweed, cherries, hummus, tortilla chips, and drink water. Jack wants to go over and play with these kids building dams in the stream. I take the babies over there, “Is it weird I’m the only adult here?” I think and possibly say out loud to Jack and Fiona. There’s nothing I can do. The kids seem cool; I think they’re locals. They start talking to us, showing us a jelly fish in a bucket. They tell me it’s still alive but it’s broke up into tons of slimy parts. “It will form new jellyfish from all the little parts” this kid tells me. “Really? I didn’t know that”. Another kid tells me they are all homeschooled. A little girl comes over and tells her two-and-a-half-year-old brother, “Come on Vander, mom doesn’t want you talking to strangers”, but he doesn’t listen, he just keeps enjoying playing with Jacks excavator, which I had to convince Jack to let the kid play with. Now I’m feeling even stranger. But I don’t know what I could have done, either not let Jack play with the kids or not go over there and just tell Jack “Go on, go play with them and I’ll wait here.” A woman walks over to me, maybe Vander is her son?  I assume she’s someone’s mom.  She points out one of her kids, he is the one who broke up the Jelly Fish, she tells me she has three more somewhere, she’s taught kindergarten four times, homeschooled all her kids. “Today is community day for our homeschool group. All these kids know each other; we meet once a week. We’re from Vacaville.” She says. “Oh, really, that’s cool. Do you have a teaching credential?” I ask. “No” She says. She went on to tell me how they do it, that they still have to take the standardized tests, and that she likes it because she gets to bring her faith into it. I felt connected to her and repelled by her at the same time in equal portions. I wondered if she was voting for Trump and if she taught her kids creationism, what did she tell her kids about the ocean? Does she wonder if I’m a Christian too?  I felt myself getting close to a magnet or a sink hole, being drawn in. I imagined her life, perfect. Her being the perfect mother and wife. I asked her “Do you ever get breaks? How do you do it, how you teach four different grades and make dinner and cook?” She said it’s hard, but that “God provides us with what we need”

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About Jenny Hynes

I am a painter, housewife, and mother of twins