There is no exhaustion like that felt after a beach day with little ones. I love that feeling and I have missed it over the last six months.
My kids are essentially growing up on the beach and that’s how I envisioned it years ago when the thought of raising a family here first started crossing my mind.
Like most things in life, however, there are times when what you envision in your head does not jive with reality.
One of those times was on Saturday, our first true beach day of the year.
We go to the beach throughout the year, but it’s not a real beach day for us unless we break out the beach wheelie, a ridiculous four-wheeled wagon of sorts that holds all we need for the day — chairs, umbrella, towels, a cooler, boogie boards and beach toys.
Although I long mocked the parents who felt the need to pack so heavily for a day on the beach, I have a major affinity for my four-wheeled friend because it saves me multiple trips ceand carries everything that’s required for an enjoyable and long beach day with my sons, 6 and 4 years of age.
For some reason, on Saturday, the kids never found their groove, despite all that we brought to the beach. They were whiney throughout most of the day. There were complaints about the food and drinks we brought to the beach and concerns were consistently aired over this and that all day. It was a painful experience and one that should have been wonderful.
Many people view the beach as a place to relax. They read, work on their tans, people watch, enjoy the scenery, and nap, among other things.
Pam and I, on the other hand, head to the beach knowing there will not be much relaxation for either of us. We feel lucky when we each get several minutes of uninterrupted beach chair time.
At our kids’ ages, we are in the hard work phase because each wants us to be involved in everything they do. While there are a few glimpses of some independent play, most of the time they end up fighting over something silly and we need to intervene.
If Beckett had his way, he would spend the entire day in the ocean. Since we are not entirely comfortable with the water bug being alone in the ocean at this point, I am usually with him. Subsequently, in the case of last weekend, I am standing in freezing water helping him to catch a wave on his boogie board or playing the over-under wave game. There was a time when I could fake going under, but those days are long gone. That meant what seemed like hundreds of freezing moments over the weekend.
Carson is less of an ocean lover at his age, but I am seeing signs that he is getting there. Unlike Beckett, who sprints for the water immediately while we are unloading the lovable wheelie, it takes Carson a while to warm up to the idea. Again, unlike his older brother who would head out over his head if left unsupervised, Carson wants me to be holding him or be on my shoulders. I am happy to oblige and really do love it, but there is a physical toll to carrying around that 50-pound boy for long stretches.
Carson is more of a sand player at this time, and he and Pam have built some masterpiece sandcastles in their time. My only involvement is Carson’s requirement for a big hole to be dug initially and then to keep it as a hole despite him filling it up with sand intentionally throughout the day.
Although the ocean last weekend was freezing, I do love my time with the boys in the ocean. I see many years of fun ahead of that.
This time of year it’s just too chilly to stay in for long periods of time and that’s usually when Beckett starts chatting up neighboring groups on the beach. He’s an extremely social kid and is not shy about starting conversations with little ones or adults he does not know.
Within reason, we have always embraced that aspect of his extroverted personality. Our concern is always whether the people he is chatting up are bothered by our 6-year-old boy interrupting their beach day.
There were two cases last weekend that were memorable.
One, Beckett and Carson befriended a little girl about 3 years old. While Carson showed the girl the intricacies of his hole in the sand, Beckett began to express his concerns to the grandfather of the girl about the fact he was smoking. He was not using a cigarette, but a vaporizer. Beckett found the whole device amazing and that kept him entertained for some time. At one point, Beckett was entertaining the family by counting in Korean while demonstrating his various punches and kicks from karate.
The next day Pam and Beckett were playing catch on the beach when he struck up a conversation with a group of Senior Weekers. While playing with Carson in his hole, I could see Beckett holding court and telling stories with Pam close by. It was great to see the young folks not bothered by him and actually teaching my son some soccer juggling tricks. He loves playing with the “big kids” and always learns a lot. At one point, he was talking and his arms were flailing and he had each of them laughing hysterically.
I later learned he was telling a story that went something like this. “Hey guys, yesterday, my dad was pitching me the ball — overhand not underhand — and I hit it right back at him straight into his privates.”
I so cherish these beach days, even the ones that are more challenging than others.