Wednesday morning we walked on Gooch's beach for the last time this season. The sun was hot but the wind cooling; a perfect Maine day. By noon we'd packed up the car and were rolling out of town.
I'd like to say it was relaxing, however on the last night we returned from dinner at one of my favorite restaurants to find my incontinent, anxiety-riden pooch had tried to get out of my mother-in-law's house by clawing her way through the front door.
Annabel alerted us to the mayhem.
"WHAT HAPPENED HERE?" she hollered.
Shards of wood from where she'd gouged at the door and molding were littered about the fieldstone floor. Later we discovered her desire to be safely habiting the car instead of the house (should her humans leave without her) extended to the sliding screen door upstairs.
Now let me tell you about my mother-in-law.
She's not the most laid back person on the planet. In fact I'd say she's somewhat anxiety-prone herself. But when it comes to matters like these she's downright compassionate and understanding for both stressed-out furry friends and their owners. She'd simply add to the list of things she'd give the handyman when he came by for a look-see.
Of course I would insist on paying for the damage, but it doesn't really ease the guilt of causing mayhem wherever I go. It's always been so; I've always felt a little like the dirt cloud following Pigpen. I often find myself wishing I could be invisible. Like if I had Super Powers, invisibility would be my prime talent.
Ittybit, thankfully, doesn't share my hang-ups, yet. She boldly goes where no preschooler's gone before, and she elbows her way right into the fray. She doesn't worry what she looks like doing it, either.
On the beach the day before, we were copping squats under the shade of the umbrella and talking about big things, such as songs from the Sound of Music and the meaning of the word "menace," when lo and behold a horde of holiday travelers from Quebec went and plopped their things down in front of us. They fanned out it a horseshoe shape and dug in. Great piles of bags filled with all manner of sun screens, beach toys and snacks. Rafts of magazines, books and summer beverages. Ittybit was rapt: "Are they moving in?"
She continued to sit with me for a while, watching the new beach settlers closely. Of course when they began to speak to one another she brightened. "Mom!" she said with a combination of shock and pride, "They're speaking SPANISH!"
Uhm ... no, honey they're speaking French."
"No. I know Spanish," she said, recalling the child's book of Spanish words that she'll only allow me to read in English. "They're speaking Spanish alright."
And in a flash she was standing over the little girl in their group, smiling. She didn't say anything, just smiled and tilted her head a little. The girl's grandmother handed the child a rice cake and Ittybit licked her lips. As quick as she had bounced over there Ittybit bounced right back, reporting eagerly that they had a baby and snacks and toys, too. And again, she was gone.
"I have a baby brother, too," I heard her say to the Canadians. "He's over there with my mother. He's little and can't play in the sand like me. Do you have any toys? I have some Easter eggs we bought at the store today. They are fun to put sand and shells in. You wanna have an Easter egg hunt?"
And with that, the two little girls were playing together. Easter eggs and shovels and pails digging side by side.
"See mom? Isn't it good to know Spanish?"
And it turns out the language of friendship isn't the only language she's practicing. She's also developing an ear for the language of carpentry."
When the workman arrived early in the morning to survey the damage, Ittybit wasted no time showing him around the devastation. "See here?" she pointed. "My dog did that ... She's a menace."