Just Another Day at the Beach by Cheryl Butler

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butler_cherylNow that I’m a mid-lifer (you do the math) I’m realizing more than ever how little in life I actually have control over.  I no longer fret over my child’s public remarks concerning her teacher’s bad breath or worry that my smile lines aren’t going away anymore. And given the way this summer is unfolding, this is probably a good thing, especially if the gray, dank weather we are now accustomed to is any indication.

There are only so many snide comments one can make about the weather and then even that gets old, so by the third week of drizzle, clouds, whining kids and no sun in sight, I did the only logical thing—packed up all our gear, minus the sunscreen, and headed to the beach.  You wouldn’t believe the premium parking spot I was able to snag, along with a wide open beach to park our blankets, boogie boards, sand toys and bottomless bag of snacks—practically heaven.  This misty day of blah deserved to be interrupted with a batch of homemade sunshine, and I was sure the kids would agree.

I wish I could tell you that my kids were as willing to roll with this desperate attempt to snatch some summer as much as I was, but I would be lying and would hate myself for it.   My peppy plan wasn’t as well received as I had hoped it would be, but my threat to make them start trying on things in their closet to see what fit for back-to-school was enough to lure them into the car.

Once our things were strewn all over the muddy sand, I thought I could entice them into helping me sculpt a triple-decker sandcastle decorated with the most divine clamshells we could find, but they were far more interested in digging through the large sack of soggy snacks rather than digging with a shovel.

OK, so they were just a little hungry.  Now that they had filled up on Ding Dongs and Cheetos, I just knew they’d be interested in a little scavenger hunt, especially when I announced the winner got a prize.  “It’s not another book to add to our summer reading list is it,” squawked my 12-year old son.  Drat, how did he know?

We’d been there all of but 15 minutes and already they had depleted the cooler contents leaving one bruised apple, taunted the seagulls with cookies they had no intention of sharing with them, asked where they could go to the bathroom since the pavilion was closed and then let me know how bored they were and could we please go home and watch Spongebob.

Did they honestly think I was going to waste that front row parking spot for only fifteen lousy minutes of beach-filled ecstasy?  Not a chance!  Nothing that lives in a pineapple under the sea was going to persuade me to take them home, especially knowing that I was returning to a washer machine that had been out of commission for nearly 3 weeks.  Amazing that this 3-year old top-of-the-line commercial front loading washer could no longer handle my 4 plus loads a day.  Lucky for my family, though, I had the wherewithal to rig the Jacuzzi with pantyhose on the intake jets and did the wash like so until my delicate wrists became sprained from wringing out our plush Egyptian-Cotton towels by hand.  I may have had no control over my broken appliance, but thankfully I had control over my mind and stopped that nonsense so the Jacuzzi could be used for more important things like hiding the really good snacks that  I don’t leave for the vultures in our open pantry.

And of course, there was also our hot water tank that was currently on the blink as well.  I am well versed in how things break in threes, so I easily succumbed to having no hot water for nearly the entire duration that the washer was down.  These silly new-fangled gas water tanks that have their own computers—how were we to know the tank was in a computer lockdown because we had blown a fuse when the washer went kaput. We didn’t’ see the urgency in figuring out the problem because our teens were now taking 1-minute showers as opposed to 1-hour ones—the savings was well worth the sacrifice.

With the glorious beach all to ourselves I allowed myself the pleasure of actually sitting in my own beach chair like I see the other grown-ups doing on a hot, sunny day at the beach.  It was everything I could’ve hoped for, minus a great book and a dozen deep-fried clam cakes—this was the life!  Sadly, it was short-lived because the thunder began to rumble and the now black skies opened to let me know this party was over.

The ride home with 8 sandy drenched kids was a breeze because we were the only vehicle on the road.  No sun means no beach traffic which means less time for bickering and poking one another.  My husband, away on business, called home later that evening and sheepishly asked how it was going.  I glanced out the kitchen window to see my 6 and 9-year olds hitting golf balls in the mud with what I think were my husband’s new clubs.  “It’s going great I smirked, just another day at the beach.”

Copyright 2009 Cheryl Butler

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