Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Vacation Games

Have I mentioned before that my six-year old son is hypercompetitive? That no activity exists for which he cannot devise a way to keep score and declare a winner (usually himself)? If you ever saw his Putting Away the Clean Laundry Victory Dance, you would instantly understand. And so, as I dipped a tentative toe into the not quite temperate Atlantic Ocean on our recent vacation, I was not surprised to hear the following:

"Dad, let's play Jump the Waves! You have to jump over the waves with both feet. You have three lives. If you don't jump a wave, you die. If you die three times, you lose the game. Ready, Go!" It's a rare sentence of his that doesn't contain at least one word in italics.

In this spirit, I offer a recap of our vacation.

Miniature Golf
The old man successfully defended his number one ranking, winning both the Jungle Jim Invitational and the Aussie Down Under Open, although my older son made a charge at Jungle Jim's, winning the back nine. My Tigeresque domininance of this event could be on the wane.

Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby
This ended in a dead heat, with each boy crushing numerous homers, including one each onto the second-story decks of nearby beach houses. Fortunately the houses were occupied by Cubs fans, so they threw the balls back. As permanent pitcher, I picked up the bat only to take some exhibition swings.

Beach Paddle Ball
After losing a few games early in the week, Son #2 rallied to pass both his mother and his father to take the overall title. He may have had a slight advantage, since only he knew the exact rules and he was also keeping score. Frankly, I am shocked he lost any games at all.

Dog Walking
Big win for me here as Sweet Pea and I watched five sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean. My mother made a brief run with her dog Spice, but I took a decisive lead when I walked both dogs one morning. In many events, it comes down to who wants it more, and for some reason, I didn't get the feeling that the Doc and the boys had the desire it took to win this one.

Beach Reading
Normally a very strong event for me, but the older boy boldly staked his claim, finishing the last 150 pages of the fourth Harry Potter on the ride down and demanding that we buy the fifth when we got there. I did my best, plowing through "Ultramarathon Man" and going cover-to-cover in the latest "New Yorker," but it was never close.

Outlet Shopping
Like Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France, the Doc takes this one every year. My mom went along for the ride, but the yellow jersey always goes to my beautiful bride. She'll take another shot later this summer at the Outer Banks, but should be able to stay sharp with a strict online training regimen.

Board Games
Lots of competition in this event. No final results were available for "Racko," "Snapshots," or "Solitaire Frenzy," but there was a noticeable downward trend in tears and tantrums (not one board overturned). I took the traditional route to victory in the one game of "Risk" that we played, first securing Australia and South America, and steadily amassing enough troop strength to hold Africa and North America before sweeping through a weakly defended Asia and Europe. "Can't you play easy on me, Dad?" asked my younger boy. "I'm sorry, son," I replied, "But it says right there on the box,'The Game of Global Domination.'"

Jigsaw Puzzle
Another impressive win for the Doc here. Despite some pressure from Son #2 on his 100-piece Fantastic Four puzzle, the Doc displayed the focus and tenacity required to win with her completion of a 1,000-piece puzzle that had something to do with oversized objects in an old-fashioned general store (it didn't make any sense to me either). My mom and I stayed in the game long enough to finish the border, but we fell by the wayside shortly after the Doc moved a tall floor lamp to provide better lighting. It's very rare for a dog walker to win in this event, which held true to form.

Funland is, of course, the arcade at the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. Many, many events took place here, too many to tally, so I'll just hit the high points. The Doc showed some fancy footwork in the "Dance Dance Revolution Game," I took home a tiny stuffed snake in Skeeball, and the boys redeemed enough tickets to get some baseball cards, plastic spiders, and candy. Not sure how you keep score in Bumper Cars, but a spinal injury count of zero certainly sounds nice.

Ice Cream
Competition was fierce and almost daily at a multitude of venues: Dairy Queen, TCBY, Royal Treat and Dumser's Dairy Land (since 1939). The Doc took top honors in the sprinkles (also known as jimmies) category, while the boys duked it out in Blizzards/Shivers all week long.

Human Carry
Another win for me here, as I lugged our slumbering baby boy up the stairs from the car on four different nights. This may be the last year of this event, as he just broke the 60-pound barrier.

So what was the final score for the week? Who went home with gold and whose dreams were shattered? Well, much as my younger son might protest, I think I would have to say we were all winners.

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