Life’s a beach

Written by Amanda Coop

“Can we go down on the beach?” Miss 9 asks.

“Umm, sure,” I say, somewhat unenthusiastically. I know how this is going to go.

“Noooooooooo!” exclaims Mr 6, as he pushes his body back and his legs forward to gather momentum on the swings at the playground beside the beach.

Not only is Mr 6 notoriously difficult to extract from a set of swings, but he’s not exactly what one would class as a “beach kid”, either. He doesn’t like the sand, the saltwater itches his ankles and don’t get me started on his fear of soldier crabs. He is irrationally concerned about the likelihood of stepping on a stone fish, and although I admire his commitment to the nautical theme, it’s hardly enjoyable having him wrapped around me like a giant squid every time we venture on to the sand.
Therefore, despite living a whole 10 minutes’ drive from the beach, we rarely go.

I feel a bit guilty, really, knowing how much some people would love to live so close to this beautiful, safe, amazing beach that we’ve begun to take for granted.

I’m kind of on Mr 6’s side. I love the ocean, it’s just a dreadful shame you have to walk through all that sand to get to it (I guess that’s where he gets it from). I’m also blessed with a complexion that burns if I so much as look outside, so unless I want the sort of tight, crispy skin you might find on a barbecued pork sausage, a day in the sunshine is out of the question. I feel calm when I can watch and listen to the waves from a shaded distance.

Miss 9, on the other hand, loves to bask at the water’s edge, rolling in the sand and waves, soaking up nature. Anyone who knows her knows she can be a little uptight at times, and that she mostly shies away from anything “messy”, so it’s a joy to see her truly enjoying herself, long hair blowing in the breeze, digging in the sand, getting filthy and not having a care.

That’s until we get to the car.

For the reasons mentioned above, most of our beach trips are unscheduled. Mr 6 never wants to go but Miss 9 sometimes gets her way, mostly when we’re already out at a park or playground and, as such, we don’t go prepared with towels, spare clothes or swimwear.

Miss 9 is still living in the good old days when I used to have the car stocked with spare underwear, clothes, towels, non-perishable snacks and all manner of whatnot that you tend to cart around everywhere when you have toddlers and may need to meet their unreasonable snack demands or take care of their poorly controlled bodily functions at any given moment.

However, seeing as we can now leave the house without the ever-looming threat of someone peeing their pants or spilling something down their shirt, my previously generous arsenal has given way to a few spare jumpers and a pair of thongs each.

It used to be that when she’d get horrendously messy we’d just wash her off at a tap or beach shower, chuck the wet, sandy clothes in one of my handy plastic bags (I know, who was I back then?) dry her off and dress her in a new outfit. Obviously, we created a false sense of preparedness because now, despite my repeated warnings, she continues to get awfully messy every time we let her anywhere near the waves.

“Don’t get too wet,” I’ll warn her. “I don’t have any spare clothes.”

“OK Mum, I won’t,” she’ll reply cheerfully before sinking her toes into the sand, then wading into the water. Before I know it she’s “accidentally” fallen over and then she’s rolling around, covering herself in sand.

“Oops,” she’ll say cheekily.

I can’t be too upset with her because I feel like it’s good for her soul. You don’t choose to be a beach person, you just are one, even when you’re stuck in a family of sand-dodgers.

It’s not quite so good for my car interior but, hey, nine years, two kids, a cat and a dog later, I’m not sure why I even care.

Perhaps one of these days I’ll remember to pack a spare towel. Or not. You don’t choose to be slack; you just are.