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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Life’s a Beach (unless you go with kids!)

Hubby away on a work trip + 90-degree weather in March + weekend = ???

A tricky equation to solve. How would I keep my three kiddos busy and entertained and happy while on my own for the weekend? Was there an activity—somewhere on earth—on which the three kids could agree? We’d rarely hit upon a combination all three wanted to do (at the same time). I was facing odds that rivaled the frequency of seeing Halley’s Comet (once per 75-76 years). I wanted to do something that would cool us off. Free activities are always nice. Could I hit upon one that they’d all like? I gave it a try.

The first day I dragged them to a beach where I knew there were great tide pools. We were rewarded with lots to look at in the pools and tons of intact shells to examine on the shore. Found a decent parking spot (wow!). The only hiccup was that I somehow forgot to bring towels. Because who even thinks of towels when going to the beach? But still, we made do. The kids (miraculously) agreed that it was a fun idea. Score one for Mom.

The second day I informed them that we were going to the bay for more water fun and shell searching. Oh, there were many arguments among all members of this gang. No shortage there. I must have broken up twenty arguments in the two hours we were gone. Sand-throwing. Throwing mud at faces. Splashing too aggressively (“He started it!” “I did not! She wanted to play!”). Drama.

One particularly memorable tantrum was thrown by a certain child (who shall remain nameless)—a child going through a major tights phase. She wants to wear tights every single day, even though the temps have been in the 80s lately. She wanted to wear them into the water at the bay. I’d thought she might forget about the tights once we arrived. (What was I thinking?) No, she threw a fit because she didn’t have them on. Back to the car I marched to retrieve the tights. (Happily, I’d found a parking spot a mere half block away, so Operation Tights Recovery was quick). Put the tights on the fashionista. The skirt too, she informed me. Sure, okay. She waded into the water. Three minutes later I helped the same sandy child out of the tights and skirt and she happily splashed in her swimsuit for the next hour. Until she decided the underpants under her swimsuit (don’t ask) were bothering her. She tried to remove the undies while still wearing the swimsuit. Another screaming fit. Brief visit to the bathroom. Problem solved. Not quietly, but solved.

Beaching with kids isn’t relaxing. It just isn’t. Even though I went minimalist with the gear, you still have to lug a few things. They don’t want sunscreen on. “I’m bored.” “I want to leave!” “I want to stay!”

But I tried to capture a few moments of peace even while spinning the plates I spin and refereeing fights and dealing with soggy, sandy tights. I studied the broken shells at the shore, scattered like thousands of pieces of white and peach-colored confetti. Nearby, toddlers waded and laughed and people built sand castles. I enjoyed the breeze and breathed. I noticed the sun shining through palm fronds as sunset approached. Boats bobbed in the bay, paragliders floated overhead and a WaveRunner zoomed around. I eavesdropped on snippets of conversations by people from another part of the world. We cooled down. We played. The kids managed to have fun, even without the aid of technology!

There are wet towels, sandy kids, and extra laundry after a visit to the beach, yes. But sometimes it’s just worth it to get them out of the house. So I’m chalking it up as another victory. A sandy, soggy one, but still, it’s a victory. I’ll take it.

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