I’ve written a few articles on the beach already. But, in my defense, the beach does have us surrounded.
For some reason, whenever it starts getting
warm again kiln-baking hot, we flock to the beach like Palmetto bugs to honey.
So my little family of roaches packed up with some friends to hit Cocoa Beach last weekend. When we arrived at our friend’s house, the wives decided that it’d be a good idea to all pack into one van rather than taking two. Being a writer, I had premonitions, but that’s all I had. I didn’t have my fellow husband to back me up because he’s chosen a vocation that requires him to work in the middle of the week. Poor sap, making all that money.
Don’t get me wrong, our friends had a nice van and could fairly easily seat the eight of us. But let me propose this idea. What if eight people (five of them kids, aged six to 14) decided to get into a walk-in closet for an hour?
And why is it that when kids get into a small space, their voices don’t adjust accordingly? Little thoughts like, “Hmm, I can’t wait to go to the beach,” jumped up and down on my eardrums like Mario on a mushroom. So when I heard, “Mom, Mark is pinching me!” I thought about how my wife gets on me about wearing ear protection when I’m making knives in our garage.
But a universal principle of life is that if you are on a road trip and you have a younger sibling, they will pinch you. I’m the oldest of four, and I’m still in therapy over it.
Then, I heard, “Mr. Phil, can you help me inflate this?” I looked back to see six-year-old Mark holding a deflated beach ball. That’s just what we needed at this moment.
Then, I looked at what the kids were drinking – cherry Coke. If I could harness that energy coursing through their bodies, I imagine I could power up my cell phone. I have a terrible cell phone.
I tried to distract the kids from screaming booger-butt jokes by asking them what they were most looking forward to at the beach: “Using the sea as my toilet.” That’s my son.
A more sensible voice from the back, a female voice of the cutest among us, parried with, “It’s not a potty, David. Well, it sort of is for fish but not for us.” I’m pretty sure while she may tell booger jokes, she’d never tell a booger-butt joke. She’s doing pretty well considering she’s sandwiched by male siblings.
When we finally got there, we unload enough coolers and boogie boards to have made a rescue raft big enough to save the Titanic. Next, each kid takes precisely one boogie board and sprints for the beach.
When we’ve finally paid for parking, hauled food, beverages, towels, suntan lotion, a few umbrellas, a tent, an assortment of plastic sand tool toys that would make Tim the Toolman proud, and a few more boogie boards (why not?!), we adults finally arrived.
No sooner had our toes hit the water when nature, which is definitely a younger sibling with long fingernails, strikes. As the storm blew in, the kids yelped and scurried around like hunting dogs on a tame goose chase. The kids took off for the car, the moms rolled their eyes, and we began to pack up. I, with utmost generosity, offered to watch our stuff and ride out the storm.
Lest you think too highly of my courageous generosity, I had my eye on a high embankment in which I managed to dig a cozy, shaped hole in minutes. (Funny. There were all these signs with turtles and words on them I had to move.) When I’d snagged a sandwich and a LaCroix, I nestled in, ready to ride this sucker out in some sweet, sacred, solitary silence. Poor moms stuck in the car with all the yelling, I thought. Or I would have thought if I wasn’t so blissfully happy.
And lightning? That’s nothing. If I was struck, I wouldn’t have to help drive home.
Eventually, my wife came and hollered at me that I must come now. Apparently, one of the kids was yelling about my safety. The pinchy one. If he only knew how safe I really was. There’s physical safety, and there’s mental health safety. On the sliding scale between the two at the moment, my scale was heavily weighted to enjoying the storm from my little Hobbit hole.
Sadly, some things are just too good to last, like kids. They’ll grow up, and someday I will miss them. When they do, I’m going to the beach, and it’s going to be amazing.