I live ten minutes from the beach (I know, pretty awesome, huh? But these are Washington State beaches, so don't bother getting jealous.) but my kids have never seen the waves or trembled with joy at the sight of such a huge sandbox. Even during the last few weeks when we were sweating through a heat wave, I resisted the cooler air and wearing-out-the-children properties of the beach. Why? Because the effort required to go to the beach just seems like something that might kill me.
I finally took them yesterday. Friends were going, which always makes me more inclined to go anywhere, and I had to admit I wanted to see the look on Jackson's face when confronted with acres and acres of sand. They were planning to meet between 10:30 and 11, prime toddler visiting hours, but I knew I could get there earlier. Molly took her nap early, I wasn't planning to give them baths (what would be the point?) and all I had to do was pack two lunches, throw the beach towels in the beach bag, find the sunscreen and we'd be on our way. I could probably be there by TEN!
Well, we managed to get out of the house at precisely 10:22.
The whole way there I wondered what had taken me so long. I hadn't even washed their FACES in my mad dash to get out of the house. I tell people that I'm used to this two-kid gig and packing up my children and their respective stuff is just second nature now, but I can't say I'm any good at it. OBVIOUSLY. By the time I've gathered two sets of clothing, diapers, toys and lunches, made my own self presentable, found my keys, convinced the boy to go down two flights of stairs on his own while I carry the baby, get their shoes on and buckle them into their car seats I'M TOO TIRED TO GO ANYWHERE.
Not going anywhere isn't an option, since there's always the risk you might be whined to death if you stay home. So most days I power through the Gathering and the Packing and it always -- ALWAYS -- takes me longer than I think it will.
Once we got to the beach Molly was cold and Jack was overwhelmed. And once I got us all situated, Molly didn't like the feel of sand on her feet and Jack was stealing a 10-month-old's sand toys. We'd been there all of five minutes when both kids started to wail and my friend burst out laughing. I had no idea what they were sobbing about so I just sat there, lamenting my efforts, wondering when getting out of the house is ever worth it.
After an hour or so of Beachy Fun it took me another half hour to pack everything up to go home -- dumping sand out of everything I brought, wiping off feet, finding the sand toys, making two trips to the car while friends watched my kids because you can't drive a stroller across a beach! Who knew? I changed diapers in the back of the van because I knew they'd fall asleep in the car on the way home and wake up as soon as I tried to put them down for actual naps. Which they did. And that is when the beach outing finally killed me.
But not before I looked at my pictures and had a few reluctant second thoughts on the unworthiness of gathering and packing and beaching.