We don’t have any swim practices or commitments at all on Tuesdays, so on our summer calendar, Tuesday is day trip day.
While most of us would look back on our trip to Kent Falls and say we had fun, there was lots of bickering and arguing and complaining on the kids’ parts, and lots of frustration and a decent amount of anger on my part.
This past Tuesday was our second day trip and we went to Compo Beach in Westport, CT.
We love Compo, and we go there every summer at least once. It’s a great beach for kids, and it’s the beach I went to almost every weekend when I was in high school.
But beaches are full of sand, and sand makes people (people meaning several of my children) uncomfortable, so I was prepared for the day to be full of complaints about sand in suits and sand on feet and sand in eyes and sand on food, and sand, sand, SAND, SAND.
Then there would be complaints about the heat or complaints about sunscreen or complaints about whatever needed to be complained about at that particular moment in time.
So I was looking forward to a day at the beach, but I was prepared for less than desirable behavior and/or attitudes.
The beach is almost an hour from our house, so the ride there was 50% good and 50% bickery and totally annoying.
The beach also changed its parking policy over the summer, and now, in a snooty, let’s-keep-the-out-of-towners-off-our-beach move, visitors purchasing day passes have to park in a separate lot that’s about a 200 yard walk from the edge of the beach. That’s normally not a big deal — I don’t mind walking anywhere — but when you have chairs and umbrellas and beach toys and coolers and five kids with you, it’s kind of a pain in the ass.
So that induced a fair amount of why do we have to park all the way over here?-type questions and other complaints.
But something miraculous happened once we stepped foot on the beach.
Nobody really argued, nobody really complained, nobody really had a meltdown, and we had an awesome day.
It was a day where the pictures I took were an actual portrayal of reality that day.
We got to the beach about an hour and a half before low tide.
When it’s low tide at Compo, there is a jetty the kids love to explore. There are thousands of rocks there, and they cover all sorts of sea creatures. There are hermit crabs and snails and clams and all sorts of fun stuff.
I’m not a homeschooler, but that shit is a homeschooler’s dream.
About a half hour after we got there, we randomly saw a friend of Number 5 and 7’s from our old swim team who they hadn’t seen in a couple months. Now they had a friend there to play with, and the three of them, along with Number 4, did some serious jetty exploring.
Number 4 had fun in the mud.
The girls were great together.
The girls and boys were great together.
As per yearly tradition, we got ice cream.
While all these things were great, they were not as great as what is going on in this next picture.
Those people in the yellow circle BEHIND me?
Those are my kids. Playing. Nicely. Together.
And while they did that, I sat with my back to them, in a chair. I read a book, and I relaxed.
For at least an hour and a half.
An hour and a half of relaxation at the beach.
WHILE MY KIDS WERE THERE.
It was amazing.
It wasn’t that long ago — just five years ago — that Number 7 was eating handfuls of sand at the beach. Number 5 and 6 couldn’t swim and needed constant attention.
Going to the beach was not fun. It was not relaxing. It was stressful and exhausting and 95% annoying.
Four years ago Number 7 was running straight into the water to her death every moment she got.
Three years ago she was randomly running a mile down the beach at full speed chasing seagulls.
Two years ago she was not a strong enough swimmer to let my guard down at all.
But this year, all the kids are old enough, independent enough, responsible enough, and safe enough to take care of themselves.
And it was glorious.
To those of you who are in the throes of toddlerhood and sand eating and sand throwing and sunscreen in the eyeballs and crawling straight into the ocean, it will get better.
It doesn’t seem like it now, but before you know it, that day will be here.
The day where you can go to the beach and actually enjoy yourself.
I know, because I’ve been waiting for that day to happen for the last thirteen years,
and it finally happened last Tuesday.