A Glorious Day at the Beach With the Kids
An Essay Based on a True Experience When My Children Were Young
In August 2002 I experienced one of those, "glorious days of Summer" that you sometimes hear people talk about. Or maybe it's advertisements that talk about those glorious summer days? In any event, that day was such a day. It was early August and although we live on the East Coast, and only 25 minutes away from the ocean, I had yet to take my kids to the beach that Summer. The night before this particular day, I heard the weather report and decided the next day would be our first official beach trip of the Summer.
I motivated my three kids to help me prepare for our day by reminding them how much fun we would have once we got to the beach. Instead of my doing all the preparations, I decided to delegate responsibilities to everyone. My children were 7, 7 and 11 so this idea worked well for me.
One child was in charge of getting four beach towels, another to pick eight juice boxes out of our stash of extra snacks in the basement that I had accumulated through coupons, and the third was in charge of gathering the sand toys. All I had to do was pack sunscreen, a blanket, and lunch. I used to pack individual baggies with sandwiches chips and cookies for each family member. That was a lot of work. On this day, I decided to get smart and lighten the preparation workload. Although I did pack individual sandwiches, I rolled up an opened bag of chips and put an elastic around it and put it in the cooler. I pulled a whole package of cookies out of the cupboard and added that to the cooler. I washed a clump of green grapes and put all of the food on top of the juice boxes and ice packs. A quick change for everyone into bathing suits and we were ready to roll.
There isn't a free beach near the ocean for us, and our favorite beach that was normally a $5 parking fee was closed. I was an at-home mom and did my best to save as much money for my family as possible. The only other beach at the ocean cost $8, so I gritted my teeth and paid the $8 parking fee. I was annoyed that I had to pay that much, but by the end of the day, I had definitely changed my mind.
While I got to read for an extended amount of time, my children not only frolicked in the sea, fed the seagulls leftover bread crumbs, and built elaborate sand castles, but also learned a lesson about erosion. It was a clear but rather windy day. Periodically a sand storm would kick up. The kids remarked on how much the sand stung their skin, and we had a discussion about the details of erosion and how tiny grains of sand like that, day after day, year after year, are strong enough to erode away beach cliffs and change the shape of coastlines.
As I sat on the beach in the sunshine and watched my children busily creating works of art in the sand and cooperating while sharing sand tools, I realized that the $8 was well spent. There was none of the usual sibling bickering on that day. We had been able to have an educational discussion, we were out in the fresh air and sunshine, we had gotten exercise by swimming and walking on the beach, and I even got time to relax and read. Yes, it was definitely worth the price of admission, and I couldn't wait to do it again!
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