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Love and Hate

The ups, downs and overall delights of parenthood
Jul 6, 2011
09:10 AM

Love & Hate: I Love Going to the Beach

Our community pool is sparkling clean and has all the fringes, from chaise lounges to water slides. But sometimes, I just want to grab the girls and head for the sandy, fishy low-tech lake.

Love & Hate: I Love Going to the Beach

I really do love the pool down the street. Especially when the girls and I walk in early in the morning and few people are there yet. It looks like a pool at a resort. The water sparkles in the sunshine. A soft breeze ruffles fringes on the sun umbrellas. Lotsa pretty, skinny ladies wearing lotsa gold jewelry. (Go figure.) It makes me feel free (and kinda rich) for a few fantastical minutes.

But then we start hearing the rules. No running. No sitting here. No kids in the pool there. No kids under this height on the slides. No splashing. No food around the pool, unless you buy it here. The first time I brought my older daughter here when she was just a toddler. I couldn't bring in a sippy cup for my daughter because it was "outside food." A sippy cup!

And then we found a little lake less than five miles from our house.

At the lake, we realized, we could bring as much food from home as we could carry. And sand pails. We could bring drinks and towels and our own beach chairs and our umbrella. Of course, that is the problem about the beach. There is so much to carry.

But that's OK. That's what daddies are for.

And once we are nestled into our own little stretch of beach, there is just no more relaxing place to be.

The girls drag us out to play in the water, and that's always fun. But when mom and dad get weary of the water and want to return to the magazines on shore, they can play in the water, within our easy view for hours on end.

And the people are kinda different. At the pool I'm thinking of – the ladies go to be seen. And they look good. But at the beach I see more tattoos than gold jewelry. And not too many people look perfect in their bathing suits. Just another reason to relax and be myself. And that's fine by me.

Once the girls get waterlogged and have had enough of the water, there's so much more to do. Recently Suzi and Patti, who fight like raccoons in a bag in the backseat and at home, work together on the beach every time we go. Like a little road construction crew, they dig out a big old tide pool with a ragtag collection of plastic shovels and cups, fill it with water, then scrape a trench into the beach and let the water flow back into lake.

Is there anything more peaceful, more precious than watching your kids playing on a beach?

I don't think so.

We still go back to the pool sometimes – for swim lessons and that perfect, filtered, very clean blue water.

But to really celebrate summer, you've got to swim where the fishies swim and get some sand in your shorts.

That's how you really know it's summer.

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