Life’s a beach… I just keep thinking that… especially yesterday after spending the day at the beach.
It was a spontaneous trip – one planned at the last minute after being plagued by the thought of another day at home with my three kids fighting while I desperately tried to get a few things done before the start of another school week.
Lately my kids are at each other’s throats. I wonder its root cause. Is it being spoiled beyond belief at Christmas, or the back-to-school routine change that has them unnerved? No matter what it is, it’s annoying, irritating and leaving me with little patience.
I find myself so frustrated when I have to break my concentration to quell a fight over who got to the cozy blanket in the ottoman first. I become perturbed when I am carrying in a full laundry basket, only to be spun by the wind of a big sister chasing her younger brother. Then there’s the pee on the seat issue. The three-times a day argument over who got the “easy buckle” in the car has worn on me, zapping my tolerance. The sweet mommy voice I used to hear myself use has been replaced with a testy yell and a few wisecracks here and there. I know I have to work harder to be more patient, but the whines, the banter and the name-calling are driving me insane!
So when my husband pointed out that he would be spending Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday at the office, I knew it was the perfect day for an outing. The endless teasing had propelled me to get out of Dodge.
We impulsively headed to Capitola Beach. It’s a bit of a trek, a one-hour drive coiling through the Santa Cruz Mountains on Interstate Highway 17 and later down scenic Highway 1. It’s the kind of beautiful drive that has you believing you are further away than you actually are.
I had packed a few movies for the day’s road trip, preparing to circumvent any potential bickering that would take place once we hit the open road. But when we got into the car, it dawned on me that multiple distractions could be my family’s current problem. With all the excitement, new routines and new toys, perhaps it is the numerous diversions that have disabled our ability to get along.
As we drove in the car, conversation spewed unabated. I had a flashback of the road trips of my youth. Sure, there was bickering in that minivan too, but I remembered talks of tall trees, who saw the first cow and random conversations about the fastest moving land animal. In my car, we spoke of the dangers of the beach with its ruthless undertow and how surfers can look an awful lot like seals, causing a shark to strike. Refreshing chats to say the least. I heard that kind mommy voice that I used to know.
We hit the beach, picnic and sand toys in tow. Thirty sand castles, a few Frisbee games, chasing the waves and throwing rocks into the surf and I had yet to hear a squabble. (A few whines eeked out when the seagull began rooting around in our bag of pretzels, however.)
But it appears that what we needed to get along was some time together with a common distraction. We were having too much fun at the beach to bicker.
I chose to not push my luck on the drive back home and threw in a movie. The kids were spent – a five-hour beach trip with 75-degree temperatures in the middle of January can do that. We hit little traffic although it wouldn’t have mattered; the droopy-eyed kids in the back were too spent to care.
We walked in the door, me still basking in a rather fight-free day… And like a wave about to crash on the sand, so did the moods of my kids. It was back to reality. I chose to look on the bright side: At least our quarrel had some reference to our stress-free day at the beach.
“Ashley is a pigeon kisser, Ashley is a pigeon kisser!”
Life’s a beach, isn’t it?