I said that we would just check it out, just take a quick look because by the time we had checked into the hotel and settled into our room, it was late afternoon and much too chilly to swim. It was even colder than the weather report predicted and I had only brought thin sweatshirts for each of us. But Josh kept saying, "Wanna go home" so I needed to put some more motivators on the table. I wanted him to be ok with this quick little mother/son trip that I had brought him on. So instead of going straight to the car to go get some dinner, we made a brief little side trip to just go look at the outdoor pool and hot tub area.
We rounded the corner and I used my key card to get us into the tiny fenced in area where the pool and little hot tub was. Josh took a good look around and, as he took it in, his visage completely changed, as if he was being greeted by a long lost friend. The silly-sweet smile that oozed across his face said, "I know what this is! This is something I like!"
When I told him that he could dip a toe into the hot tub, he flung off his Crocs off and plopped his foot into the bathtub-like water. I could tell by his body language that we weren't going to go straight to dinner.
"Wanna go in?" It was half question and half declaration. This kid wanted to go in the hot tub, cold windy weather be damned. He walked right in with his shorts and underwear on. I barely had time to take off his shirt and sweatshirt. Josh spent the next hour enjoying the hot tub. As he usually does when he's happy, he swing his arms around, sang little bits of songs, and exclaimed words which he made up like "Wash-weh!" and "stuck-tidit".
Well, this is why I decided to take three days and two nights away with Josh. This week is Josh's spring break but not his sisters'. Since I am on sabbatical, I somehow came up with the idea of having a mother/son getaway somewhere with a pool. I chose Salinas because I have been wanting to visit the National Steinbeck Museum which is there and it would be easy to find a decently priced hotel where Josh could swim and enjoy water.
On our second day here we partook in the free breakfast and made our way to the Steinbeck Museum. I had some amount of trepidation knowing that there was a wide spectrum of ways that this could turn out spanning from massive meltdown to going pretty ok. After all these years, I know that taking Josh out to public places is always a risk but it's a risk that I am willing to take now and then. Yes, there is always the chance that he will be walking along and suddenly decide to take a pee into a bush or suddenly get upset but I don't want Josh to live in his room all the time when he's not at school. And I don't want to feel like I can never do anything interesting just because I have Josh in my life.
The visit to the museum turned out to be surprisingly successful. Josh spent a good part of the time by himself in a small, fenced in outdoor area within the museum with his headphones, Ipod and his Magnadoodle. I would take in one or two exhibits and then walk back to check in on him. He was fine the whole time, sometimes taking a few moments to walk in circles and feel the breeze on his face. For the last 30 minutes, I made Josh walk through the exhibit room with me which he was less than thrilled about but was willing to do.
After lunch Josh and I went down to the pool area where Josh elected to go into the big pool this time and I need to tell you that Josh was happy THE WHOLE TIME! As parents, our children's joy catalyses our own joy. It's not the only thing that we want for them but when our kids are filled with happiness and contentment, it touches a deep, central part of our hearts. We want our kids to be able to enjoy the gifts that life (and we) give to them. We want them to be happy.
I find myself wondering if God feels this way about us. I wonder if God, as a heavenly parent, wants me to enjoy my life, the world, and each moment as much as Josh does. Does it give God joy when I savor some part of my day or a beautiful piece of writing or a perfect Korean meal? Does my smile make God smile? Is my laughter music to God's ears? If so, I am going to try to let myself enjoy the things that I enjoy more. I think of how freely and unselfconsciously Josh enjoys the pool and I will try to be like him. I hope that my joy, and my grateful enjoyment of God's good gifts to me, is as pleasing to God as Josh's joy is to me.
For nearly 4 hours I breathed in my son's sweet joy. He swam around, jumped up and down, flapped his arms, floated on his back and stood quietly in the water with his eyes closed and face to the sky. Every time I asked him if we should go back up to our hotel room he vehemently declared, "No!" Finally I had to bribe him to come out with a piece of chocolate that I found in my purse. We made our way upstairs to discover that Josh thought that the bathtub in our room was just the coolest. He took a bath for another hour and half.