Damn the recession, time for another mini-SoCal vacation for the fam. The planets aligned, not perfectly, but at least enough to get a 25% off coupon for Alaska Airlines fares, and a get-your-third-night-free and your-lovely-kids-eat-free- too deal at a WAY WAY WAY nice resort. This resort is too nice for me and my family, but we don’t need to tell them that. It is a totally lovely day here in California. Where I am, anyway, there are no wildfires or lashing hurricanes. The traffic was totally reasonable, the air feels balmy and soft, the sun generous and warm. That is actually more than enough for me – sun, a little breeze, no natural disasters, no semi truck ramming my car off the 5.

But I am getting much more! Four handsome hotel staff descend on our rental Accord as we drive into the grandly-palm-treed porte-cochere , as the kids exclaim and smile at the statues and marble and fanciramaness. They are thrilled when the woman who checks us in wheels out a red wagon filled with toys and implores them to pick out something for themselves. Then, as we get into our room, they find their names with “WELCOME!” spelled out in soap crayon in the bathtub. AND THEN, about 15 minutes later, a knock on the door. A smiling young woman from room service brings in two pretty plates, with the kids’ names spelled out in chocolate syrup on the edges, and piled with rocky sugar, a superb cupcake, a scattering of colorful M&M’s, and gummy bears, AND little cartons of cold milk.

Well. We all smiled and laughed at this most-excellent greeting, and Mr11 exclaims that we are being treated as kings. I am glad, at least once, that they are able to feel delight and surprise and a tiny bit royal. A tough year in school is coming up for both of them, slogging around in the rain and mud and muck, and there won’t be a lot I can do to make it easier. But they can think about today, and maybe in some way it will help a little, or at least bring a smile sometimes.

We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the pool, again attended by several tanned handsome young Cali-men who smooth soft beach towels over our chaises, bring tall glasses of cool ice water, and a big mango colada for mama. The kids splash and giggle and bellyflop and play catch with a beach ball, happy as can be. I hike up my swimsuit and try not to fall out the front of it.

A Japanese couple in their 30s comes to the pool, all the way across from where we are sitting. They are with their daughter, a pretty girl in a pink bikini who looks around 8 or 9 years old. The women puts her own very long black hair into a black swim cap, then lifts her daughter from a chaise to the edge of the pool. I think she is playing, and then I see – the little girl has fairly severe cerebral palsy. Her arms and legs are nearly useless, thin and somewhat twisted, her tiny hands clenched tight. Her parents help get her into a yellow-and-pink float ring as the girl smiles broadly. I watch her mother gently push and pull her around in the water, and for just a moment, the girl’s hands relax. I think about everything this family goes through, every single day, every moment. The reality of this is difficult to take in, and it feels a bit like a cold brick in my chest. I am hauled back from thought via the chirp of MissSix’s little voice, floating across the water to me.

“Mama! Come in the pool and play catch!”

That’s luxury.