June 16, 2010

Beached Vacation

Now that school is finally out, our family is looking forward to a summer of relaxation and fun. Most years, that has included a vacation to the ocean. Going to the beach, however, not necessarily.


How can a family spend a week at the ocean and but not the beach? The key word is that it's a vacation, a time to relax. There were days with babies when there was absolutely nothing relaxing about a day at the beach.


(any similarity between this story and my own family is sheer coincidence, really)


Garmin nĂ¼vi 1690 Sat NavFirst comes the preparation. Sunscreen, hats, long sleeved gear, umbrella, stroller, blanket, buckets, shovels, snacks, cooler, and a partridge in a pear tree. Then the campaign to take take the favorite stuffed teddy bear to the beach. Mom says no and child pouts, but eventually acquiesces with the promise of building a sandcastle.


Parent delusionally sticks something to read in the overflowing beach bag. Husband gets an invitation to go golfing with the guys. Wife says,  "It's your vacation too, go enjoy." This is a code expression for "I'm going shopping when you get back, by myself." The code does not specify that such shopping will involve procuring groceries.


Husband out the door, wife starts to load the double stroller like a pack mule to push to the beach. The beach this family goes to does not have parking, as it's in a private small beach community. Older child whines about having to walk because the back seat of the stroller is filled with stuff. Mom promises ice cream.


Strollers do not roll, but rather sink into the sand, becoming more a strong mom test than ease of transport. Space on the beach is finally claimed, victoriously sticking the umbrella into the sand,  professing temporary ownership of that square.


Unpacking of stroller, beach bag and warnings not to step on the blanket in a futile attempt to have one sand-free zone commences. Reapply sunscreen. Baby wants to nurse. Tell older child to dig in the sand. Wipe sunscreen off chest and flop out a breast as all semblance of modesty is gone. Baby is distracted and possibly exposes mom to indecent exposure charges, but nobody is looking at this mom who once sported a bikini in her tankini with a skirted bottom. She's sweating and the baby is slippery in her arms.


Baby finishes nursing and needs a diaper change. Older child has walked all over the blanket and it's a sandy mess with no place to change the diaper. Does sand cause diaper rash? Too bad. Put sandy diaper on baby and lay baby in stroller with sunshield up.  Ahhh, a cool breeze. Ten seconds of bliss until the breeze kicks up and unstakes the umbrella and sends it sailing into other colonies of umbrellas. Mom yells "Stay put", and takes off chasing the umbrella, apologizing for flailing sand as she runs, realizes her suit wasn't adjusted and one breast becomes exposed during the umbrella chase. Catching up with runaway umbrella and snuggling it over bare breast in an attempt at modesty.


Bring umbrella back to the blanket and jam it into the sand with such vigor it's not going anywhere. Older child wants to go in the water. Baby is crying so mom picks up baby and tries to put hat on baby to protect her scalp. Checks suit for coverage. Walks to water with older child. Cold water hits feet and child wails how cold it is. Mom says, "You just need to get used to it."


Older, just barely potty trained child starts the I-need-to-go-potty squirm. Omniscient mom asks if that is the case. Child says no. Mom knows better. Inquires again. Child says yes. No restrooms on the beach. Mom looks back to the house. It's a long walk. Debates the damage done if child pees in the ocean. Tells child to walk up to her waist in the water and just go through her swimsuit. The child that for nearly 3 years wet herself all day looks quizzically at mom and says, "Gross." After much cajoling, child agrees. Wades out into waist high water, complaining about how cold it is and then... to the mom's horror, begins the grunt face.


"NOOOOO" mom yells, "STOP!"


"But you said..."


"NO, I meant only tinkle, not poopy".


Mom is mortified to realize she is still yelling. Baby's hat flies off. Mom holds baby on hip, chases hat and keeps telling the older child to get out of the water, "Now!"


Older child comes out of the water. Mom examines backside of child and sighs with relief that there is no telltale lump and says, "C'mon let's go back to the house."


They grab shoes, and start walking back to house, realize they left the key at the blanket halfway, get key, and walk back to the beach house.


Later that day, husband returns from golfing.


"Did you have a good day at the beach?" he asks innocently.


Husband then discovers a golf club shaped lump in the back of his shorts as wife runs out the door to go to the store.


(thank you to my friend Kristine for the inspiration to write this tale)

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