We went to Huntington Beach and still no t-shirt.
August 03, 2011

I am not a beach person, which makes me a sorry excuse for a southern Californian, but there it is.  I hate burning my feet on hot sand.  I hate the film salt water leaves on my skin.  I hate combing sand out of my hair. I hate the deafening roar of the waves.  I hate the seagull raids on my lunch bag.  I hate sunscreen and I hate sunburns and I hate worrying about skin cancer.  I hate lugging things to the seashore.  I hate lugging things back to the car.

In fact, until yesterday, I just overall hated the beach.  Unless there was surfing involved, in which case I was willing to rally for an hour or two.  But only in a wet-suit.  Because I’m also a dork.

Donald traveled for a business trip recently, so his company gave him a day off.  My husband does not share my disdain for all things beach, and in fact has been looking forward to taking Charlotte to the beach for months, so he jumped at the opportunity to introduce his daughter to the sea.

All weekend, I dragged my feet thinking about our beach plans, which would probably include an epic tantrum about how NO LIKING IT!  MOMMA NO LIKING IT! our daughter found the great sandy expanse.  Every few months, I suck it up and take Charlotte to the beach so that she can at least be exposed to it, but she always dislikes it as much as I do.  The sand is TOO HOT MOMMA! and the waves are SO MUCH NOISY!

But then yesterday came and when we told her that we were headed to the beach, the damnedest thing happened and Charlotte acted…thrilled.  DA BEACH!, she yelled as she ran through the house.  SWIM-SUIT! NEEDING IT!

When we arrived at the beach, by some sort of cosmic fluke, she couldn’t wait to get out of her car-seat.  SAND!, she yelped enthusiastically.  WATER!  YAY!  It was like someone had taken my ornery beach-hating daughter and switched her in the night.

Even so, she wasn’t too excited about the waves, so the three of us built a sand castle instead.  And after rearranging a couple hundred pounds of sand into large walls around a small wading pool just her size (my hands are very sore today), I started to come around on the whole beach thing.  Shoving my feet in the sunkissed sand, listening to my husband explain sand castle engineering to my child, I realized that THIS is what I was missing.  All these years, I’ve hated the beach because of all the inconvenience.  I’d just forgotten about the fun parts of being at the beach – about splashing in the water, about listening to the gulls, about watching sand crabs burrow. I’d forgotten what it was to be a kid.

In the eyes of a child, the experience is always worth the inconvenience.  It seems to me that this is the greatest gift of parenthood: our children remind us to slow down and enjoy life’s simple treasures.  They teach us how to find beauty in the ordinary.  I hope that whenever I think about the beach, I am reminded of this.  It’s a lesson that I never want to forget again.


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  1. By on August 03, 2011

    But only in a wet-suit.  Because I’m also a dork.

    Not a dork. Having a wet suit in your closet proves you are a California girl.

    I lived on the last house on the block on Cape May street in Ocean Beach Ca. when I was about kindergarten age. Step off the tiny porch and you “waz on the beach!“  Loved it. I remember my brother and I making the first footprints in the sand after an overnight storm. Going to sleep or waking up to the foghorn. The sun setting over the ocean and thinking the “next place the sun will be is Japan.“.  One morning we woke up to the ocean being at the porch and under the house. Just water, no waves, I learned about neap tides. We sailed popsicle stick boats off the porch.  Plankton blooms that caused the edge of the waves to glow in the moonlight and made our footprints glow too.  The Coast Guard helicopter sandblasting us as it winched a yacht that had run aground, off the sand.
    When I fly out of San Diego now I always look for that tiny yellow house on a little spit of sand so close to the edge of the sea. My dad said after the Indonesian tidal wave that knowing that, he would never have lived in that house. I will be forever grateful that he didn’t know.

  2. By Sara on August 03, 2011

    My daughter LOVES LOVES LOVES the beach. It’s terrifying because she runs straight for the waves without any warning and wants to not hold hands. She loves the waves knocking her over, and she would spend hours just playing in the water. It’s both sweet and exhausting at the same time. I’m like you - the beach is so much work, but now, so much more fun.

  3. By Heidi on August 03, 2011

    Ah, I have a love/hate relationship with the beach. I like to be there, relaxing, without any sand or sunburn. ;) Does that kind of beach exist? I was dreading this summer’s beach trip, thinking about how Molly would want to me hold her wet and sandy self and I’d have to sit in the sand, etc. BUT she loved the beach, therefore I thought it was fantastic. It was so fun to experience it with her and I didn’t even mind the sand in my swimsuit or multiple showers a day. We had a blast. I think we learn so much more from our kids than they learn from us.

  4. By on August 03, 2011

    MY disdain for the beach is about the same as yours. I hate sand in my bathing suit and that after I rinse my feet off globs of sand still cling to my toes making my shoes that much more uncomfortable (now, don’t get me wrong, I love the beach atmosphere (boardwalks, etc), just don’t make me touch the sand. Give me a pool any day.

    But like you said - this year I took Jude to the beach and he was a great age for it. We stayed for about a week and he couldn’t be enough of it. Every day he came back a huge ball of sand and loved every bit of it. Just watching him was enough to make me enjoy it.

  5. By Jeneva on August 03, 2011

    I have lived in So. Ca. my whole life and have almost always hated the beach. I don’t so much hate it anymore because of the same reasons (how can you hate something while watching your kids LOVE it??!) but I still much prefer taking the kids to Mother’s Beach instead. I don’t have to worry about my fearless daughter being lost in the waves and it isn’t so noisy or windy.

  6. By Meagan on August 03, 2011

    What a great story! :) sounds like it was a fun time!

  7. By Cambria on August 03, 2011

    Oh how I miss the beach. I am a So. CA girl at heart, but certainly hear your disdain about the beach. Especially having kids. But once we would get there, fun was had I was in awe by my child.

    On your other note, I agree that my children have taught me to slow down and enjoy the simple things. Forget about what I don’t like about them, but enjoy the fruits of my labor. I was a work-aholc before them and sometimes I think the Universe thrust them on me, not only to have the loves of my life, but to learn to stop and smell the roses.

    These little people are amazing on so many levels!

  8. By Sarah@Crazy Love Gamble-Style on August 03, 2011

    “Swimsuit Needing it!!“ That is great!  Totally makes me laugh. 

    I don’t get your dislike for the beach at all, I am drawn there, I just love it.  I do however understand your dislike for the messiness of it & inconveniences but they are totally worth it, glad Charlotte got you to come around : )

  9. By on August 03, 2011

    Best thing ever - baby powder at the beach! Sprinkle on sandy/sticky skin and the sand come right off. It’s really kind of miraculous!

  10. By Dandy on August 06, 2011

    We just took Peanut to the beach this past weekend.  In fact, I posted about it today and yesterday. 

    I grew up in HB so the beach is sort of ingrained in me.  Although I’m not crazy about swimming around in the ocean, I adore it.


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