The little one is passed out on the rug in the bathroom. Don’t panic. It’s a beach-induced coma; sun, sand, seaweed, and lots of snacks. Plus, she missed her nap today. Her sand-caked body looks something like a chicken cutlet. If chicken cutlets wore blue, ruffled bikinis.
Earlier at the beach, the smell of seaweed, coconut-scented sunscreen – even the deep-fried aroma of concession stand french fries wafting on the breeze – packed a nostalgic punch. I felt like a kid – shuffling behind my mom after we would unpack the car, the tinny sound of her beach chair rattling as she would drag it through the parking lot.
It was a beautiful, clear day. Ahhhh…summer. My husband set up our tent with the speed and accuracy of a boy scout troop leader, and we approached the water to cool off. Seaweed curled in the waves and blanketed the sand.
Luke shrieked, “Eww! I’m not going in there! Seaweed is yucky!”
My boy, The Adventurer. This should be fun.
Michael dug Luke a trench and a tunnel for his trains (we bring Thomas the Train everywhere). My Mom (the kids call her Nonie Denise), Aunt Maria and Uncle Bruce had also come along. (Side note : I have a very wonderful and loving family and they do a lot for me but I’m still going to make fun of them in this post.) For my extended family, the beach is not just a place to get some sun and have a nap or a swim. It also becomes an eating event. The snacks never stop flowing and Madeleine was busy scoping out their coolers.
“Does anyone want a cookie?” Aunt Maria asked, “Chocolate-chip?”
Madeleine was right there waiting and I took one to pass over to Luke, who was still deeply engaged in his train trench. Within moments of putting the cookie in his mouth, Luke was throwing up. With gusto, I might add.
“What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” Nonie Denise asked.
“Do those cookies have nuts in them?” I asked, patting Luke on the back.
Aunt Maria inspected the box, “Ohhhh, I didn’t realize! They have pecans in them. I didn’t see that when I bought them.”
Both my mother and aunt do the same thing while grocery shopping. My mom will come home with two bottles of conditioner, as opposed to one conditioner and one shampoo. I’m pretty sure she stretches her arms out as she goes down the aisles and whatever falls into her wagon is what she buys.
“That’s ok. He just really doesn’t like nuts. It’s a texture thing.”
I’m not sure what the etiquette is for throwing up at the beach, but we quickly buried Luke’s regurgitated cookie in the sand. The way our neighbor’s cat does when he hops the fence to poop in our garden.
I did some people watching and listening and caught snippets of conversations as people walked by…Oh, she’s a snake-in-the-grass, that one…Jim and Linda are in Florida again. Would it kill them to ask us to come…I can’t eat hummus. Too gassy.
A lifeguard was excitedly blowing her whistle and motioning to a group of people – adult people – so they would move into the designated swimming area. Two flags, set a reasonable distance apart, indicate with a sign that all bathers must stay between the flags. Yet each and every time, the people getting whistled and motioned at have dumbfounded What have I done wrong looks on their faces.
Pregnant bellies were everywhere. It’s so beautiful and provocative to look at women who feel free enough to bare it all while pregnant. When I was pregnant I felt very unattractive. I didn’t have summer babies but if I’d had to wear a bathing suit I would have been as graceful as a rhinoceros trying on a thong in a phonebooth.
Madeleine had wandered from our blanket but I had my eye on that juicy butt in the blue, ruffled bikini the whole time. She approached a woman sitting nearby who, as soon as she saw Madeleine, turned to look for whomever this little girl belonged to. I waved and mouthed thank you.
“Can I play with you?” a little boy asked Luke.
“No, you’re a stranger,” he replied. The little boy ran back to his parents.
“Oh, he’s definitely your kid, Lindsay.” Aunt Maria said.
“Stranger danger,” Uncle Bruce laughed.
“Luke, go over and say Hi, I’m Luke,” I said.
The boys played nicely together, which was a relief because sometimes when kids wander over at the beach they’re not always so nice or they’re super-annoying, and it’s kind of hard to shake them. Sorry, it’s true.
“Madeleine, want a graham cracker?” Aunt Maria asked.
“I’d rather give her fruit,” I said.
“Ok, I have graham crackers,”
I opened the tupperware and handed Madeleine a piece of watermelon.
“Does anyone want a sandwich? I have grilled chicken. I also brought chocolate milk, yogurts and chips for the kids.” Nonie Denise said, opening her cooler.
“I’m fine. I just ate a salad. And I’d really prefer if the kids ate fruit instead of having any more junk.”
“Madeleine, how about you?” Nonie asked.
“How much are you going to feed her?” Michael muttered to himself.
Back home, although my sleeping-angel-daughter looks too precious to disturb, she must have a bath. I haven’t taken baths with the kids in a long time but today I figure it’s two birds, one stone. I lay Madeleine on my chest and pour the warm water over her back.
“Mama,” she whispers in a sleepy voice, “let’s have a tea party.”
I hold her close and breathe this moment in, knowing how little she still is and how big she’ll seem by summer end.