Today I took my kids to the beach.
This is such a big deal for me. I hate the beach. There is no part of a beach visit that brings me any enjoyment.
Why? It’s really simple. Everything at the beach is either really fricking annoying, or trying to kill you.
Sand. Sand on your towels. Sand in your shoes. Sand in your food, and eyes, and oh-dear-lord-how-did-I-get-so-much-sand-in-my-crotch-and-how-long-will-it-take-to-leave? Sand that hitches a ride back in your car and lurks about your house for the next three months. Multiplying sand. Gritty, irritating, crazy-making sand.
Bikinis, and the fact that I look terrible in one but there are many twenty-somethings who look awesome, all of whom want to lie within a ten meter radius of me, presumably because I make them look even better by comparison.
Budgie smugglers. A triple whammy crime against fashion, testicles and humanity.
Beach gear. Expensive, easily lost and every bit of it is terrible. Including the sun tent that costs a fortune yet flattens itself to pancake-like proportions if someone so much as breathes on it, meaning that if you actually want any sun protection you have to lie down on your stomach, with your chin in the (much-hated) sand.
Sand. See how bad this stuff is? It made both categories. When it’s not inflicting third degree burns on unsuspecting feet, it’s hiding a variety of things that will stab you from both the natural (coneshell) and man-made (syringe – at least that’s what my paranoid brain tells me whenever I step on something) world.
Water. It pushes you, pulls you, smashes waves over you, drags you into rips and harbours a variety of creatures with sharp teeth, spiky bits or kickass stings that want to hurt you, mutilate you, or consume you as an appetizer.
The sun. In my country of origin, I’m described as ‘peely-wally’, which basically means I come in two shades – milk-bottle white and angry, insulted red. The second colour comes after 34 seconds exposure to the Australian sun, unless I cover myself in three layers of SPF 50+. The three layers mean I can be in the sun for at least five minutes before I’m in acute pain and look like a grilled tomato.
I wish hating the beach was genetic. Unfortunately it isn’t, which means that my kids love it. LOVE IT. And I love them. So…
Today we put up the sun shelter. Built a really big castle with a moat and turrets. Held hands and jumped through the waves. Ate gritty sandwiches. Got burnt in spite of the factor 50.
Although I spent the whole three hours on meerkat-like alert, scanning for danger from all angles, my children were not swept out to sea, eaten by a shark, stung by a jellyfish or abducted by a cackling hillbilly Queenslander. They had a good time.
On the way back home my daughter nuzzled against my (sandy) shoulder. “That was so cool, Mum,” she said. “Thank you for everything you do for us.”
Maybe there’s one bit of the beach visit that brings me enjoyment after all 🙂