traveling with preschooler in kauai: day 1 (round 3)

We came to Kauai as a family for the first time when Jonah was barely 4 months old.

We came back again two years ago when he was almost 2.

And now we are here, with our almost-4-year-old.

Given that it’s now 11:15 pm, Pacific time, and that we’ve been up since 6am, I am a wee bit tired.

But since I already accidentally sent my vacation auto-responder retroactively to everyone whose email I had neglected to delete going back to 2006, I might as well go ahead and live-blog this vacation. Because if you’re reading this and I know you, you probably already know I’m out of town. And I don’t want to forget how today went. Because it was so awesome.

Flight: Easy.

Except for the sad part when Jonah cried with RAGE at the horrifying indignity of being forced to send his beloved stuffed T-Rex (named Rexie) through the X-Ray machine. I tried to stop it but security is security of course. I did yell at the idiots because I have no regard for my own safety when it comes to my child’s rage, especially when he’s belting it at top volume while in my arms. “Could you hurry up with the dinosaur????” I spat at the guy who had stopped the conveyer belt to examine some threat or another.

Yeah, that didn’t make it go any faster.

But the rest of the day… smooth flight, half-empty plane (probably due to Irene, sorry East Coast), Jonah happily sat through a Land Before Time TV-series DVD almost twice but the computer battery ran out with the DVD still in the slot and thus it could not move to the other laptop and Jonah tried to rage about that a bit but somehow (threatening to take away videos for the rest of the week? why thank you, I think I will) he managed to calm himself down. He did not enjoy the in-flight Simpsons, but the Madonna episode of Glee, at least the dance numbers, caught his attention.

Our first stop upon arrival was the rental car place, Alamo, which had a fantastic ice-cold water dispenser in the air-conditioned waiting area and I’m just saying, filling up our stainless steel water bottles there was so very nice.

The woman at the counter recommended the Tip Top Cafe in Lihue for lunch. Which was amazing. If you like stumbling upon a place that has absolutely no decor to speak of and looks like a bunch of gray vinyl banquettes just plunked in the middle of a big white fluorescent-lit warehouse and the aunties deliver food to the table on tiered stainless steel rolling carts and clearly only locals know and love a lot and the menu is quick to inform you that they are famous, yes famous, for their oxtail soup so of course you HAVE to get some. And they’re right. It’s crazy delicious. Basically a light pho-like broth with hunks of oxtail meat melting off the tailbone and clear bean thread noodles and crisp Napa cabbage and boiled peanuts plus fresh cilantro and chopped ginger that you add yourself if you wish.

We also had the tempura shrimp and grilled mahi-mahi which came with such Hawaiian traditional sides as macaroni salad (with a mayonnaise dressing texture akin to spackle), stir-fried noodles (with bacon and lots of garlic), steamed rice, and your basic out-of-a-bag cubed vegetable medley.

In the front area they sell some to go items, and there are a few rounders of the kind of toys you might see in a gas station or in the bins at the front of Target or TRU including lots of pretend/Nerf weapons. Scott bought Jonah a big red ball and all of us, Scott, Jonah, me, Nana, PopPop, and Aunt Michelle tossed the ball around in the parking lot after the meal, stage one of the getting out of the YaYas that had gotten all saved up in his little body from sitting on a plane for 5 hours and eating mini oreos.

I should explain that last part. The first time Jonah flew and his ears hurt on descent—and he was too old to be nursing through said descent—a stewardess brought him cookies. When I was a kid, and I screamed through every descent until I grew out of the problem around age 13, the stewardesses would me bring plastic cups full of steaming-hot damp paper towels and sometimes smelling salts. Regrettably, Jonah has inherited my lousy ear canals, and in-flight service just aren’t what they used to be. Cookies don’t help, but in his MIND they do because of that early experience. So in the airport before we left he asked me for a bag of cookies, purely for medicinal reasons, and I let him get away with that one.

Next stop, the condo. Jonah doesn’t remember being here two years ago (and YET he remembers the cookies; curious, that). He fell in love with the Koi pond at the entrance over again. And when he saw the pool. THE POOL. He was BESIDE himself. His all-tired wound-up yaya-ed self. As soon as we got into the room he stripped ENTIRELY NAKED and ran in circles, pausing only to put his bathing suit on as soon as we could unpack it, and ran in more circles until we got him out and into the pool, which is really several pools, including one particular area that is only 1-1/2 feet deep.

Eighteen inches deep! A little less than half his height. He was in heaven. He played in that pool for at least two hours. My kid who can barely swim. But in this he could try to swim and catch himself and jump in and not sink and he just kept going and going. A boy, younger and far more fish-like was doing somersaults, showing off a bit. Jonah kept saying, “That boy looks like a dolphin.”

And then he announced to anyone within earshot, “A dolphin is a MINIATURE whale.” I keep disagreeing with him about this but he won’t concede. “It has a blow hole!” he adds, proving his point.

He addressed dolphin boy, “Do you know what a coral reef is?” The week before we left, his teacher at preschool had brought out a book on coral reefs for Jonah, encouraging his recent descent into shark worship. We found a book on coral reefs at the used bookstore two days ago and it is with us now. Dolphin boy can barely put words into a sentence, he’s so young, and no, it appeared the boy didn’t know about coral reefs.

I rented a float-belt from the watersports hut for Jonah and learned from the woman manning the booth that there are two great kid-depth and quiet coves for seeing fish not too far from where we are staying. One is at Salt Pond State Park, and the other at Lydgate State Park. The latter is further but, she said, has more fish. She also suggested as a training ground we try the cove next door at Brennecke’s Beach, (where we’d been and built a sand train on the last trip).

So then Nana and PopPop rented a snorkel mask for Jonah and started teaching him how to use it to breathe with his face in the water.

Cue more delight. And cue Jonah marching around the kiddie pool informing anyone who would listen that there are two good coral reefs for kids to see fish.

He’s also hoping to see a shark. I’m not going to disabuse him of the notion but of course I’m not hoping to see one.

At the end of his long swimming sojourn, Jonah took a bath in the giant tub in our condo, and then Scott stayed in to feed him and put him to bed while I headed off to the Big Save in Koloa to stock up for the week. Jonah was apparently SO TIRED after this fifteen hour extravaganza that he fell asleep during BOOKS. He didn’t even make it to songs.

And a photo… We did not plan for the boy to be so color coordinated such that his new shark t-shirt and his dinosaur socks (and randomly, my travel mug) matched his beloved Rexie and that taken all together, the whole ensemble matched his striped jacket and his new stegosaurus backpack which isn’t in the picture because he was very careful to stow it in the luggage rack just like we did with our stuff.


4 comments for “traveling with preschooler in kauai: day 1 (round 3)

  1. GMa Mar
    August 29, 2011 at 7:31 am

    So excited for your trip…thanks for posting…love the pic. Have fun…from Colo.

  2. August 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Sounds like a wonderful day! Enjoy your trip.

  3. Heather
    September 2, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Reading this makes me so happy, and makes me feel like I’m with you! Have a great trip. Enjoy the cookies, the pool and all of the rest of your adventures. XO

  4. September 19, 2011 at 5:38 am

    Nice pic, and I really enjoyed reading about your trip. Thanks for posting!

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