Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beach Bums

The beach is in my blood.

Maybe its because I was born in Florida and lived the majority of my childhood in South Carolina.

Maybe its because I am partial to suntans.

Maybe its because I love the sticky salt water feeling that my skin gets when I've been pounded by sandy waves all day...nope, its not that one.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I can literally FEEL myself relaxing when the air starts to smell salty, and the palm trees appear, and the dirt becomes sand.

Growing up, we only lived 2 hours from the ocean, and we would travel there at least half a dozen times per summer. Mom would pack a huge cooler full of food and drinks, and we would all pack our towels, and flip flops, and boogie boards, and sunscreen we had no intention of applying...and we'd pile into our van and laugh and talk excitedly about the day ahead.

Eight to ten hours later we would pile back into the van, significantly less chipper, significantly dirtier, and significantly more RED than we started out. We would sit as still as possible in an attempt to keep the sand in our swimsuits from rubbing against our burnt flesh, and Daddy would drive home faster than he drove on the way down (and that's saying something!) because nothing sounded better than getting out of the sandy suits and applying lots and lots of aloe.

Ah, yes, the lovely, fond memories of long days on the beach.

When I grew up and got married (to a man from the landlocked state of Indiana) I was shocked to learn that not everyone feels the way I do about the ocean. My husband HATES the salt water, and the sand, and while I may get a sunburn the first day that turns nice and brown as the week wears on, he turns into a LOBSTER, and then peels for weeks.

The first time we went to the beach after we were married, I was prepared to spend the day, and he told me after TWO HOURS that he was ready to head home.

The worst part is, I fear my children have inherited some of his non-beach blood.

They fuss about the sand in their suits. The boys complain that their trunks are chaffing their thighs. And they are all four blond headed, which means -you guessed it- LOBSTER FEST!!

What is the world coming to when kids would rather play in the pool than the ocean? It's just not right, I tell you!

Although, I am not gonna lie, being able to wash off the sand and the salt in a pool before heading home is a pretty spectacular step up in my life. And being able to walk up the beach to the house we are staying in and grab a snack is a far cry better than dragging a giant, HEAVY cooler through the scorching hot sand.

I spent 4 days at the beach this past week with several members of my family, including my kids and my sister and her kids. We had a wonderful time. Well...mostly.

My sister's kids have apparently inherited the same beach-tolerating attitude. When they all started to fuss about the sand, or the salt, or the chaffing, Sarah and I would look at each other in horror.

"We just got here," one of us would say. "How can we leave before we are sun burnt and starving? And before sand has lodged in our ears and armpits and belly buttons? It can't be a day at the beach without spending a DAY AT THE BEACH."

But, oh how annoying are the cries of miserable, wimpy children.

And so we would spend a few hours on the sand, relaxing and tanning, and then we would haul everyone to the pool.

Can I just say that it is much less subtle when your kid pees in the pool than it is when they pee in the ocean...especially when there are SEVEN children doing it.

And it is much harder to acquire a decent tan when you are constantly monitoring your little ones proximity to the deep end of the pool than when you are checking to see if they are wading in the waves rather than staring at them in terror.

In other words, taking our seven children to the ocean was really fun for my sister and me. Taking them to the pool turned us into stupid-y moms.

At one point all of them were totally naked beside the pool. All of them peed in the pool. And every time one of them asked us for something, we said "You'll have to wait, I have 5 more minutes of tanning on this side."

I'm not really sure how to solve this particular life dilemma. My sister and I did come up with what we considered the perfect solution, until I pitched it to my husband.

"Next time we go to the beach, you guys can take the kids to the pool when they get cranky, and my sister and I will sit ocean-side for the rest of the day. It's a win/win situation." And really, I think it is a valid suggestion. He won't get nearly as burnt, and the kids will get their clean, chlorinated water time in, and I will get to tan on the beach all day. I was pretty excited about sharing this brilliant plan.

The words I could read going through him mind are not repeatable.

Apparently my beach-tolerating husband does NOT tolerate babysitting while I get a tan.

So, plan B is this: Buy the boys surfer trunks that are skin tight and don't chaff. Get a house on the beach, with a pool, and pack lots of sunscreen. Convince myself that a couple hours on the beach is plenty, and that I don't really need a perfectly proportioned tan. Teach all kids to pee discreetly in the pool and NOT announce it to everyone. Make 3 year old learn to swim so I don't have to watch him like a hawk.

Jeez. It sounds a little easier to haul that heavy cooler through the sand and ride home sun burnt and covered in salt.



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  2. I can totally relate to the beach bum turned wife and mom dilemma. I love the photos. At first glance I was convinced the pic with your mom was a "vintage" shot from when you all were young, and that you all had gone back to the same rock with the same clothes to do a re-take. Then I realized my error. Mrs. Patty looks 30! Anyway, excited about your book! Can't wait to read and share.