Recent Travels: Part 1—Monterey

November 28, 2005

We have been out of town the last two weekends. It was so lovely to escape our routine, our work, our deadlines, and our same four walls. Over the weekend of November 18-20, we visited Monterey with our friends Kelly and Ambrosia. Ambrosia is now 2 and a half years old and is cute as a bug’s ear.

We grown-ups finally spent enough time together to really get to know one another. The car time wasn’t very comfortable because we all squeezed into Kelly’s Prius (I was between the two enormous car seats in the back), but it saved us lots of money on gas! Plus we were able to socialize while traveling on the way there and back, instead of just meeting up in Monterey.

The kids really enjoyed the Monterey Bay Aquarium, as did I. I really love it there and think they’ve done a marvelous job on the exhibits. As usual, my favorites were the jellies and the kelp forest. Kelly is very fond of the sea otters. Ian enjoys the hammer-head sharks because they are so absurd. Lucas surprised me by claiming that the sharks and the tunas in the “Outer Bay” exhibit were his favorite animals. We happened to see a photograph of a shark caught in a net in one of the hands-on kids’ exhibits. Ambrosia seemed kind of stuck on that image and kept talking about the shark caught in the net. Both Lucas and Ambrosia enjoyed touching the animals in the touch pools. Outside, by the bay, Lucas enjoyed a long game of air basketball.

We pretty much spent all day Saturday at the Aquarium. The kiddos ate PB&J sandwiches that we brought from our hotel. Ambrosia crashed out and slept on her mom at around 3 pm, so she and Kelly just chilled for a while on a bench while Ian and Lucas and I continued on our tour. Lucas didn’t nap, so by the end of the day, after some pub food for dinner, he was exhausted and cranky.

The only bad part to the whole weekend was that Lucas had a hard time getting along with Ambrosia. He poked her in the eye on purpose once when he was mad; pulled her hair another time. Unfortunately, we didn’t have two of every single thing we brought for the kids to do, so each of them was extremely interested in whatever the other child had, and yet fundamentally opposed to trading. I found myself mothering in such a way as to protect Ambrosia from my kid’s temper and rough hands, which was new and rather unsettling to me. (I guess I identify more with the underdog–the kid who’s picked on, rather than the kid who picks on others, so I felt sort of at a loss about how to teach Lucas to control himself.) We kept telling him to walk away when he was mad. He managed to do it right a few times.

Developmentally, the two children are in rather opposite phases. Lucas’s imagination is so turned on right now that he shifts fluidly from one pretend-play scenario to another. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with who or what he is at any given moment. For Ambrosia, on the other hand, pretending is less pronounced and she stays in a particular scenario for longer periods of time. Lucas is used to playing with his friends at preschool, who assign each other roles all the time. So, he would assign a role to Ambrosia, such as “You’re seventeen, Ambrosia, and I’m eighteen.” But she would shout “No Lucas, I’m not! You stop it!” Heated arguments ensued. This really wasn’t any fun when I was in between the two of them in the car! Other things they argued about: The oil refinery we passed was a castle to Ambrosia but a light house to Lucas (it has lights all over it). The semi trucks driving on the highways were trains to Ambrosia but trucks to Lucas (who used to call them trains when he was 2 and a half years old, too).

It’s also disturbing to hear Lucas say loudly that he doesn’t like Ambrosia, well within her and her mother’s hearing. Kids can be so mean. What’s weird is that he seems particularly challenged by this little girl, in a way that I’ve not seen before with any other child. He gets along great with the other 2-year-olds he knows. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Ambrosia’s language is well developed, and she stands up to him verbally. I think the other younger kids he knows don’t do that, so Lucas is able to think fondly of them as his “baby sisters” and “baby brothers.”

Anyway, after a rocky start to Sunday, we went to the Lovers’ Point park ( and played on the beach and in the park. The weather was perfect the whole time we were there, in fact, I forgot to bring shorts or bathing trunks/suits. Lucas got soaked by the waves in his sweatpants. The sun shone. The waves crashed. We played tag. It was great!

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    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

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