Today was my last day of summer hours at work. No more peaceful, gray mornings and extra play time in the afternoons. Until June.
But I’ll be okay.
Last Saturday the Measured in Weeks family decided to go to the beach. In New York City we have many beach options accessible by public transportation. We chose Long Beach, about an hour and half total travel time: a subway ride then a Long Island Railroad ride. We saved money by buying an LIRR beach getaway, which included round trip tickets and beach passes as well as discounts at local stores.
The beach was quiet.
On Friday afternoon the weather forecast for Saturday was 81 and sunny. By late Friday night it was changed to early morning rain ending at 10 a.m.
“Should we move beach day to next Saturday?” I asked Tim.
“No; let’s go,” he replied. I agreed.
We got to the beach around 11 a.m. The rain had not and was not stopping. Between Penn Station and Long Beach the end-of-rain prediction had been pushed back to noon.
“No big whoop,” I said at the Long Beach station. “We’re renting an umbrella.”
It turns out we weren’t renting an umbrella. I’m not sure if this is a regular Long Beach nonfeature or if it was the weather or remnants of Sandy recovery, but no enterprising beach umbrella rental facility could be found. So we picked a spot, set down our bags, and I, since I was carrying a napping Henry, walked back several blocks to the main road, found a dollar store, bought a beach umbrella, returned to a towel-covered Tim and officially set up camp on the empty beach.
Long Beach has a boardwalk, but no stores on the boardwalk, at least not anywhere near our beach. My umbrella journey took at least 30 minutes. Tim sat unprotected in a cool mist while I cursed Long Beach for not being more touristy. I still have a blister on my toe as well as an umbrella we had to carry home and then store (thus our plan to rent).
But beach day proceeded. Henry spent time in the water,
and played with his “shovels,”
but after another hour of chilly rain we were pretty bummed out.
We sat back down under our umbrella and forced a shivering Henry to snuggle, despite his loud desire to be back in the water. Luckily no one was there to judge the parents who brought their crying kid to the beach in the rain and gave him spoons to play with. (Except the lifeguards, who were taking turns playing paddle ball.)
We had a decision to make: Call it a day, or wait for the sun, which was finally starting a short and annoying game of peek-a-boo. Henry needed a nap. Tim was cold. But I was not ready to go home. I saw the sun. We were going to have a BEACH DAY. So I decided we’d take turns carrying Henry in his carrier while he warmed up and slept. It worked.
The sun came out!
Tim and I took turns carrying Henry and walking along the water for his nap. He slept. The rain stopped. We got a chance to read words on the electronic devices we brought but had to keep in a plastic bag in another bag. We got to walk on the beach in the warm sun. It was lovely.
Henry put on his sunblock.
Other people came to the beach and even went in the water.
Henry went back in the water.
Then really went in the water.
Then we took him out of the water to cover his leg in sand.
Then we took his life jacket off and gave him some sand-free food, and all was right again.
We didn’t leave until 5:00.
And we managed to pack everything we needed into a backpack, beach bag and cooler. Tim carried backpack and bag, I carried baby and cooler.
We rinsed off at a boardwalk shower, let Henry walk on the boardwalk and wave goodbye to everyone, and caught the 6:25 train home on which we ate rosemary crackers and blueberries and did not go to sleep.
We will do it again.
If you are, know, have been near, looked at, or have been in the same state as a parent, you’ve likely heard someone say, “… and we turned out alright.”
We are fat, hateful, dying of preventable diseases and killing one another quickly and ourselves slowly.
If you believe a new safety measure or parenting method or real-food movement is silly because it wasn’t what you experienced in childhood, maybe you’re the person today’s parents don’t want their child to become.
[Redacted name used only between 2 and 4:30 a.m.]
And yesterday I called him “Meatball.”