Yesterday, we went to the beach. I’m so sorry I didn’t have my camera — because the visual image of us going to the beach speaks volumes about my family. As there are no photos, I’ll just have to give it the thousand-word description it deserves.
For most people, going to the beach would conjure up images of a tote bag, a bottle of sunscreen and a floppy hat. For us, it’s more like moving a 1-bedroom apartment out to the shoreline. Mr. Wonderful is called Mr. Wonderful for many reasons, but chiefly because NOTHING is too much trouble for that man to do for his family. So when we go to the beach, he hauls enough crap equipment for us to spend the rest of our natural lives in comfort at the water’s edge.
As we pulled out of the driveway, the back of my SUV was packed tightly with all the necessities, barely leaving room for our three kids + one more. We have shelter from the sun for me (I’ve had malignant skin cancer), chairs, a table to keep our shirts and towels out of the sand, food, beverages, skim boards, boogie boards, goggles, towels, shovels… I think you’re getting the picture. The hour-and-fifteen-minute ride was relatively pleasant, thanks to a couple of fully charged iPods and an air conditioner that reaches back to the third row.
We met our friends en route and arrived at the beach just before noon. Out pops my BFF, a feisty Cuban-American schoolteacher who has skin that is genetically perfect for tanning. (Her dark brown eyes make her the lowest possible risk for skin cancer. I hate that about her.) She’s holding a tote bag and a bottle of SPF 4 sunscreen, and her skin begins turning a shade of golden bronze the moment she steps out of the car.
My group starts hauling crap equipment through the sand, setting up Base Camp in a lovely spot. 20 minutes later, while my friend has already turned over twice and taken a walk, we’re ready to sit back and “relax.” I let the kids shed their shirts (so I can apply Neutrogena SPF 100+ sunscreen to their pasty white skin) and let them play, because by this time I’m needing a drink and a chair.
The weather was perfect. (90-ish degrees is a lovely day for us on the Gulf Coast.) There was a gentle breeze, and the sun sparkling on the water was mesmerizing. The kids played in the sand and swam out to the pilings where piers once roosted (before Hurricane Katrina). At various times they were throwing baseballs and lacrosse balls, digging holes, and burying The Little Guy in the sand (because he’s the only one who still thinks it’s fun to get sand in every orifice of his body).
Then, when everyone was tired, and the spots where we missed putting sunscreen were starting to sting, it was time to pack it all up and haul it home. This is where it gets tricky, because it never goes back in the car the same way it came out, and inevitably, something gets pitched so we can see out of the back window. (This time it was a blanket that we didn’t use…)
Today I’ll pull it all out and clean everything, because a lifetime of going to the beach has taught me NEVER to put things away without cleaning them, lest you be surprised by the Most Horrific Smell Ever next time you want to use any of that crap equipment.
So the images of this day at the beach exist only in our memories. Next time I’ll try to remember the camera, to record it for posterity. For a day at the beach is definitely a metaphor for The Lucky Mom’s life: be safe, have fun. Then blog about it.
As our children grow older, it’s really hard to find activities that everyone can get excited about. With kids ranging in age from 10 to 19, someone is usually being dragged against their will to family outings. But the beach is a great equalizer. Everyone acts 10 years old at the beach. Some of us just bring more equipment.