28 July 2010

The Beach

Before the month is out (summer is more than half over, I seriously can't believe it), I wanted to recount the story of our July 4 adventures. We celebrated our nation's independence by taking our first family trip to the beach. So we get the Doozer all decked out in his "baby" suit ("bathing" didn't quite take, no matter how many times we repeated it). It's more of a two-piece swimming costume, like the men wore to the shore in the olden days.

So we packed a cooler, a beach bag, a diaper bag . . . there are a lot of bags. In general. We've discovered a good rule of thumb as parents: any activity which requires leaving the house (with kid in tow) should be allotted perhaps twice as much time as you think it will take, or back when you were Doozer-less and fancy-free. No joke, the first few steps of that journey, from house to driveway to garage to car, can be pretty arduous. If not downright treacherous.

What if we have another kid? Will there be twice as many bags? Who carries them all? Do we get a butler? Do I need to drive separately, because there will be no room for me once the children and all the belongings are settled in the car?

Anyway, as we drive to the beach, I decide to unpack the centerpiece of this excursion, a newly-purchased inflatable raft-type toy in the shape of a colorful turtle. Which, as an inflatable item, needs to be inflated. So I started blowing air into it. And you'd think I'd smoked two packs a day for twenty years. (Which I haven't.) Once upon a time, I was a swimmer. I could hold my breath for at least an entire pool length. What happened? Did becoming a dad really make me this old? I have to keep resting and catching my breath. It's like running a marathon. And my life is now full of such items, toys that need to be inflated. The universe hates me.

Upon arriving at the beach, we parked and unloaded the car. And since there was so much to carry, we had to let the Doozer walk on his own. It was quite a distance from the parking lot to the actual beach, so carrying him would've made the entire operation move much more quickly, but this was not an option. So, what should be a two- to three-minute walk turns into an epic journey spanning at least 10 minutes or more. The Doozer is not only resistant to hand-holding (which didn't matter since, did I mention, our hands were full), but prone to zig-zagging (or staggering like a drunk, take your pick) and getting easily distracted, leading to meandering and frequently ending up off-course.

At last, we make it out to the beach and stake out our spot. I'm ready for a nap, but the Doozer is raring to go. After a quick lunch, we grab the "turtle boat" and head to the water's edge. It's not like we're really going swimming, so we don't find it necessary to wait the requisite half an hour before going in the water. Regardless, we do take the opportunity to explain to the Doozer that normally, one waits half an hour after eating before swimming. He replies with a blank stare. I think that means . . . he understands?

So, we get in the water and the Doozer . . . hangs back. He lets the water's edge touch his toes. He is skeptical. We try to entice him. Cajole him. No dice. We offer up the turtle boat. No interest. The Doozer starts picking up fistfuls of sand from the beach and redistributing them by dropping them into the water. He will occasionally stop and run his hands through the water, rinsing off the sand residue. This goes on for several minutes. Several long minutes. And just when we think that this is the whole day gone, that he will never agree to get in the water . . . he relents. And allows us to gingerly place him inside the turtle boat. And slowly we start moving further into the water.

"Go . . . out . . . there!" The Doozer points way across the lake. He sees sailboats. He is pointing to an area well beyond the designated markers of the swimming area. We inform him we can't go out there.

"Go . . . out . . . there!"

We take him as far as the buoy at the outer edge of the swimming area. We teach him to repeat a garbled approximation of the word buoy. I won't attempt to recreate it here, I wouldn't know how to begin to try and spell his version.

After spinning the Doozer and his turtle boat in circles several times ("Wheee!" he exclaims, the same as he does when we take the curve of an on-ramp onto the freeway--he's a little daredevil, apparently), our day at the beach ends.

But only after a lengthy, paraphernalia-laden, and wayward walk back to the car.

"Hot car!" he informs us. We know.

"Hot . . . summer . . . day!" he goes on. Quite observant. But not quite accurate. Great hot summer day, we tell him. Just the kind to spend at the beach with your peeps.

Can't wait to go back.

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