June 21, 2013
so much for the beach...
See the devilish grin? See the eyes? Those are the eyes of a little beach-loving maniac who is craving independence. Don't be fooled by her seated position. Look closely, you can see the ants in her pants.
I was really really really looking forward to this day. We've had good experiences at the beach so far this season and I felt completely confident that today would be no different. I packed everything up before breakfast. I've got it down to a science. Just one tote bag filled with: snacks, diapers, wipes, sunblock, change of clothes, bags for trash, hand sanitizer, a towel, bottles of water etc. I call it my "to-go" bag and I'm pretty sure every parent has one for a child this age. In the trunk of my car I keep a mesh bag filled with sand toys, a sheet and my beach chair. Ya never know when an impromptu date with the shore will crop up.
Normally we sit and play in the soft sand but today I decided to put Scarlett in her bathing suit so we could sit near the water and she could enjoy splashing around. I brought a couple of swim diapers and chose a two-piece for ultimate diaper changing convenience. We headed out with high expectations on an absolutely beautiful beach day.
We chose a spot right at the water and Scarlett sat in my chair while I dug a little pool for her. I got out her sand toys and changed her into her swim diaper. She sat at the edge of her "pool" with her feet in the water and she was happy. She loved the wet, pebbly sand and of course, the splashing and rushing of the little waves. We shared the beach with one fisherman and a few seagulls. It was just perfect.
And then things took a turn.
After about thirty minutes Scarlett had enough of sitting and playing in her designated spot. She was getting crazy antsy. I took her for a walk being sure to keep her hand in mine. We walked back to our spot and as I let go she bolted. She ran into the sand giggling. Fine. Then she made her way toward the water. I had reminded her often that she is not to set foot in that water without my hand. Oh, toddlers. Silly, funny, defiant, experimental toddlers. She kept inching further into the water until I grabbed her and then came the meltdown. The jelly legs, the screaming, the "no! no! no!"s. Then lying in the wet sand crying. For some ridiculous reason I attempted to get her toweled off and into dry clothes. That went about as smoothly as a plane crash. Trying to get my riled up little scamp to lay flat on a sheet while I pry her wet bathing suit and diaper from her flailing body was not my finest moment. As I'm pulling off clothes she's dumping heaps of sand all over us. I'm trying to wipe the pebbles from her eyes when I notice her sand toys starting to float away. Annnnnnnnnnd here comes the tide. Now I'm demanding that she stay on the sheet while I wade into the sea for her stupid red crab mold. Because a twenty-one month old has no intention of listening to instructions, she clearly rises and runs off in her bathing suit top and drenched diaper covered in little sand stones. I chase her down and we head to the sheet once again. The sheet had seen better days at this point, let's put it that way. I manage to get a dry diaper on her - not without about a thousand pebbles inside it. Enjoy that, honey. Next, I jam a tank top over her head with the promise of a snack at the picnic table. We get her shorts on and with one arm I pack up the nearly sea-swallowed sand toys, the disheveled sheet, the towel filled with rocks, my chair and two bags. With Scarlett on my hip begging to carry her shoes I make my way up the beach, up the hill, onto the grass and to the picnic table. Out of breath and spitting nails I managed to shake everything out, brush the millions of stones from our skin and slip into my flip flops. Needless to say the snack wasn't happening.
We drove away in silence. I felt like I had a teenager in the back seat. She knew I was upset. I asked her if she knew what happened and she told me, "Run away from Mama." I think she relates the situation to a picture in one of her favorite books, No No Yes Yes. One of the No-No pages shows an open-mouthed boy breaking free from his father's hand and running wild. We have discussed the importance of that page numerous times. I informed her that we can no longer visit the beach without a minimum of twenty five chaperones. I no longer feel confident. Not in such a beautifully dangerous place. I definitely needed a second pair of hands today and I won't even pretend that I had things under control. It was a shit-show... and I was pissed. I wanted to be able to do everything on our own. But toddlers are tough, man. Until she is able to listen and understand fear and danger I think the beach requires friends. Thank God for playgrounds.