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Preschooler in Paradise

Travel discussion for St. John

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Preschooler in Paradise

Postby dreamshark » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:13 am

Thanks to everyone for ideas and encouragement on visiting StJ with my 3-year-old granddaughter. It was a great trip. I posted a long and detailed trip report over on the TA forum, but I thought I'd just put a few notes here specifically about traveling with Little L. She turned out to be an intrepid traveler, which was a good thing considering how many airports and hotels and extra days turned out to be involved (United, amirite?).

But probably the hardest part for her was getting all the way to the island and to the villa and then finding out that everybody but her thought it was too late to go to the beach that day. Even then she didn't cry or whine, just gazed wistfully through the balcony railings at Fish Bay down below, asking "Is that the beach?" I tried to explain that it was A beach, but not the one we were going to swim at. Okay, fine. Then she looked back at Fish Bay and, resigned to the inevitable disappointments of parental promises, sighed, "I don't see a lot of sand down there." It broke my heart. So that's how Grandpa, Grandma, Mommy and Little L ended up screeching over Gifft Hill at 6 pm to arrive at Maho minutes before sundown. She was more than satisfied with the sand, and pleasantly surprised to learn that you could swim in the water! (In Oregon, beaches aren't really for swimming).

I had done a lot of Amazon shopping before the trip and brought along many things, the most essential of which was the floaty vest. She took to it immediately, quickly learning how to use her legs to twirl around and kick herself forward. But she never would put on the snorkel mask. She just doesn't like things on her face.

It turned out that we found empty driftwood structures on every beach, so we only put up the shade tent once. That was on Cinnamon, which was so windy that the towels kept blowing off our driftwood house. It was a little tricky to put up in the wind, but it survived really well. I had envisioned Little L napping in the tent, but she wouldn't leave the water. So her Daddy napped in there instead.

The blow-up raft was fun, but we only used that once, on Francis. It turned out to be hard to see much through the clear plastic bottom, but we towed it over to the little reef and she was delighted to spot a big school of yellow grunts.

There were a lot of sand toys at the villa, which she was very excited about. But once she got to the beach and discovered how much fun it was bouncing in the water and collecting shells she didn't really play with them much past that first evening at Maho unless someone wanted to play with her. That was mostly me (I've always liked making sand castles). Grandpa is too arthritic to sit on the sand, but he spent hours with her in the water, towing her back and forth with his cane. She was the perfect combination of fearless and cautious. She didn't mind when her face got wet, or even when the little swells at Cinnamon rolled her over and over at the edge of the water. But she never went into the water without a grownup, and insisted on coming back out of the "deep" water periodically to touch bottom again. Good safety instincts.

She enjoyed everything we did: eating in town, having smoothies at Colombo's with the donkeys, visiting Annaberg Sugar Plantation (where she saw hermit crabs and deer). We did all go into town on the Fourth to watch fireworks, and she was fine with that too. Turns out that it's Gramma that is freaked out by noise and crowds and traffic, not Little L. We managed to get a table at High Tide in time to watch fireworks from our table, but she chose to go with the group that wanted to watch the fireworks from the beach with the party boats, leaving me and her daddy at the table to wait for the check. She hiked all the way to and from the car on her own two feet too, even when we got lost and slogged over a huge hill. She is a trouper.

Back at the villa, she found a shelf full of games which she turned into construction toys, making elaborate patterns out of the letter tiles from some sort of anagram game. Then Grandpa got out the games he had packed, made up simplified rules for all of them, and the two of them played games for HOURS. Grandpa is a game designer and collector, and apparently she's a chip off the old block. Neither of them wanted to be the one to say "enough" so they just kept playing. It was fun to watch. She has quite an attention span.

This last anecdote has nothing in particular to do with the beach, although I think it started in the water. But it's one of my favorite oddball memories of the trip. In an attempt to be the cool, edgy Gramma, I sang her the alternate version of "Popeye the Sailor Man." I had only gotten through "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man, I live in a garbage can" (hadn't even reached the part about "always go swimmin' with bare naked wimmin") when she collapsed into helpless laughter, shrieking "I live in a garbage can?? Garbage can!!"). Apparently she was unfamiliar with both Popeye (which she pronounced "Puppy") and Oscar the Grouch, and the idea of living in a garbage can was the FUNNIEST THING SHE HAD EVER HEARD! For the rest of the evening she continued singing variations on this joke and exploding into shrieks and giggles. She lives in a garbage can! Mommy lives in a garbage can! In a GARBAGE CAN!!! (Three year old humor is not really very funny, except to other three year olds).

Really, this entire trip was just an expensive and elaborate plot to take my granddaughter to the beach, and everything else was just gravy. Everyone had a good time, but nothing was better than watching her have a good time.
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Re: Preschooler in Paradise

Postby ColoradoMom » Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:07 am

That was such a fun read!
Made me look forward to St John with grandchildren (someday if I’m so lucky!) and made me laugh out loud that the Daddy used the nap tent.
Thnx!
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Re: Preschooler in Paradise

Postby hoosierdaddy » Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:46 pm

Thanks for sharing dreamshark. Being at the beach with a grandchild is so much fun. We spent last week with our almost 3 year old grandson at Hilton Head and the time was priceless. Years from now they will only remember what they see in pictures but I think those times help mold them into the people they will later be. Hopefully beach lovers!
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Re: Preschooler in Paradise

Postby liamsaunt » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:05 am

What a wonderful trip report. Your love for St. John and your family shine through. Thank you for sharing your trip with us.
It's like looking in your soup and finding a whole different alphabet.
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Re: Preschooler in Paradise

Postby PA Girl » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:13 am

I read your report over on TA and it warmed my heart. We have such wonderful family memories of going to STJ with my parents when our son was little. Like your granddaughter, our son was a trooper as it related to travelling.

While every kid is different, I think the success of a trip with a young one depends as much on the attitudes of the adults as the personality of the child. I have friends that could not believe we took an infant to STJ. The same friends would take their infants to Black Friday sales and marathon outlet shopping trips, something I never would have considered doing. :)
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