With Jake, A Day At The Beach Is Rarely A Day At The Beach
A gorgeous, sunny, late June day…perfect weather for a day at the beach. Finally! It is a great day and it’s the weekend, so I can take full advantage and take the kids to the beach. Because I wanted to lie out in the sun, I chose Morgan’s Beach over Togue Pond. Morgan’s has lots of beachy real estate, while Togue is shadier. I spent the morning packing bags and fixing lunches; you know – be-bopping! I was so excited for the first beach trip of the year! The kids were too…and as a result were up very early.
I knew from experience that it wouldn’t be Jake’s best day. Our first couple of trips to the beach after a long winter with no beach is an adjustment for him. However, Jake loves to swim. He likes the ‘suck’ of the goggles on his face, and he’s always done very well in water.
In general, our lives revolve around Jake’s need for normalcy, schedule and routine. I have to be constantly thinking about where we are going, when we are going there, and when we will be back and be able to communicate that to a verbalish pre-teen. He doesn’t really understand the concept of around, or about, or approximately. For years we’ve lived our lives in “Chapters.” Chapter 1 – go to the store. Chapter 2 – go to the post office. Chapter 3 – etc., etc., etc. But every once in a while, I just need to not be looking at the clock and watching the calendar and fly by the seat of my pants!
This particular Saturday, Ryan was working in Bangor and we wanted him to be able to join us when he was done, have dinner with the family, and not feel rushed. I could not give Jake an end time because I didn’t know when Ryan would be joining us. Not only that, who knows when the good times will end? When you give Jake an end time, you have to stick to it. There is no way to change it. If I had said 5:00, I would have been bound by that time to the second. So, instead of cut our day short, try to renegotiate an end time, or bargain with a boy who’s very hard to reason with, I chose to say, “I don’t know.” It was a gamble for sure.
There were times at the beach when Jake did great. Several times I found myself with a goofy grin on my face watching Jake and Liv play together on the float. He would pull her up onto his lap when they were out deep. They would come in closer to shore and take turns tipping each other off the float. They would also pull each other around. It was fun to watch and a joy to see. These moments, however, were few and far between.
The rest of my day was full of bickering, the constant asking me when we were leaving (no joke about 40 times in one hour-and that was just the first hour), struggling with sharing beach paraphernalia, and several instances of Jake threatening to walk home. Jake had a really hard time with the idea of some other kid using “his” float, even if he wasn’t using it. Sharing has never been one of his strong suits. He continued to ask me to call Ryan to pick him up and take him home, even though he was having a good time swimming. When that didn’t work, he took to trying to convince Meme (his grandmother) to do it.
I’m not sure I can explain to you how exhausting it was to deal with. And I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking, “Why didn’t you just pick an end time and tell him that?!” As I already stated, we would have been bound to that time, to the second.
Add to this the sensory nightmare that is sunscreen lotion, sitting around all day in/on sand, and it was kind of a mess. Jake spent a fair part of his afternoon hiding under his beach towel, seeking solace in his video games.
To make things just a little bit worse, half the beach was reserved for a wedding party to be held later in the afternoon. This meant that all the beach goers, of whom there were many, were cramped into one half of the beach. It seemed every trip to and from the water involved carelessly walking over other people’s towels, or tripping over their beach toys.
He was able to chill a little bit when Ryan showed up. They went swimming, we had our little barbecue, and then we packed up and went home. Jake, of course, had to be in the first car. It’s another one of his things – he HAS to win the “race” home.
It was a pretty typical “first beach day of the year” for us. It’ll get better once we do it more … I hope! It usually does.
Anyone else have a son or daughter who hates the beach?
Who can’t handle the smear of SPF 40?
Who doesn’t do well with “we’ll be home LATER?”