I never imagined how often day-to-day parenting would feel like the battle scene that opens Saving Private Ryan.

I thought we’d won ours, getting both kids back from the beach to our motel room. 15 minutes of crying by our 5-year-old daughter (tired? overstimulated by vacation and spring break? sugared up? check, check, check). But walking back with the calmed girl, suddenly hysterical wailing by our 2-year-old son.

Finally in the comfort of the Comfort Inn, I realize it’s everyone in the shower in their clothes right this second or the whole place will be smeared in sand. It’s do or die! I’m peeling off their clothes, begging/forcing/trapping them in the water of the shower. The 2-year-old is yelling, “eee! eee! eee!” and Jay decides it’s “pee” so he and our five year old are chanting “ok to pee! ok to pee!” as I’m trying to get the shirt off him and soap off six pounds of sand. But he’s more and more upset, and why would he be chanting “pee” when he’s still in diapers and can go at will? I eventually realize he’s belting out “Beach! Beach! Beach!” in his best Stanley Kowalski. More beach, he’s pleading. More more more beach.

In the end we’re mostly clean and mostly dry and mostly dressed, exhausted from the exertion of resisting, screaming, pleading. Incredibly, nobody in our battalion got killed.

Who wouldn’t want more beach, really? But in the moment the¬†adrenalin is incredible, that same buzzing in your ears the sound effects people reproduce in scenes of war and carnage. There’s no time to figure out exactly the right thing to do. Will I scar him for life making him take a shower? Would there have been a better way to make this happen? Will everyone ever stop shrieking?

Then of course, just like in the movies, it’s over, and normal sounds return. There’s nothing sweeter than being dry and soft and clean after the gritty cold sandpaper walk from the beach. The little guy is still inconsolable, yanked from paradise, but seems pleased that we at least understand his lament and stopped yelling “pee” at him. I take a breath. How nice this is!

Except for the heart-pounding battle scenes, our couple days at the beach were a big success. Rollercoasters, candy apples, corn dogs, deep sleep. Ready to do battle again tomorrow. 4 days to go in this Spring Break, but so far we’re winning this one.