Just as a refresher, the beach is not really my thing (check out my original "Is the Beach Worth It?" pie chart here).
I've never been someone who cares about getting a tan, likes sand in the crevices of my lady parts, trespassing on the property of sharks and jelly fish or lugging awkward beach chairs across crowded parking lots under a burning hot sun.
But last year, I did a semi-turnaround because I recognized the experience of seeing the ocean for the first time as a truly amazing thing for my daughter. (Witness her very first steps in the water.)
So I was even, dare I say, EXCITED to take Mazzy to the beach this summer.
After all, she's twice as old, twice as wise, twice as brave and would clearly love the experience TWICE AS MUCH.
But apparently, what happens one year does not apply the next. Because this year, at two and a half years old, Mazzy can think for herself and make her opinions known.
And Mazzy has very clearly decided that NO, THE BEACH IS NOT WORTH IT.
I'm afraid my daughter has been been spoiled by the pool at my mother's West Hampton condo, where we were spending the weekend.
The pool that is:
1) Right outside the back sliding glass door.
3) Does there really have to be a three? Isn't "right outside" and "heated" enough?
Despite Mazzy's unwillingness to be anywhere but the pool, Mike and I figured she just didn't remember how much she loved the beach and dragged her there anyway.
We packed the chairs and the umbrella and the cooler and the beach bags and the blankets and the towels, stuck them all in the car along with the child, unloaded in the beach parking lot, trekked across the hot sand under the hot sun, set up shop and then presented THE AMAZINGNESS OF THE BEACH to our daughter once again.
"I want to go to the pool."
"But babe— here you have water AND SAND!"
"I want to go to the pool."
"Let's just stay here for a little bit and see if you have fun."
I stripped her of her clothes and she plopped down on our already sandy beach blanket— defeated.
"Do you want to play in the sand?"
She humored us and half-assed a castle.
"Can we go to the pool now?"
"You know what, sweet pea? We can build a much better castle by the water!"
Mazzy looked skeptical but she took her pail and shovel and followed us to the water's edge.
Mike and I sat down in the wet sand (something I haven't done since I was ten) and showed off our best castle-making skills.
But Mazzy was preoccupied with the water lapping closer and closer to her feet.
"Do you want to put your feet in the ocean?"
"Let's just try. Remember last year when we all held hands and jumped in the waves and had so much fun?"
I held out my hand, which Mazzy took reluctantly.
We inched closer, until the tail end of a tiny wave submerged her feet.
It was FREEZING but I pretended not to notice.
Then a larger wave crashed toward us.
Mazzy let out this low guttural scream and I saw terror in my fearless little girl's face. I swear, I've never seen her scared of anything before.
The water hit her about knee high and quickly retreated. But it was enough.
"I DON'T LIKE IT."
"You don't like it?"
"The ocean is too big for me," she said in a small but definitive voice.
With that, Mazzy ran as fast as she could, through wet and then dry sand, until she felt at a safe enough distance from the water.
She finally stopped toward the top of a sand dune and only because the sand got too hot for her feet. I know this because I had to run up there to retrieve her as she screamed "IT'S HOT!!! IT'S HOT!!!"
Freezing water at one end, black-flecked sand at the other— the beach was literally a trap.
On her way back to the blanket, she peed through her waterproof diaper (I really don't understand those things) and we decided to pack it in.
As I stripped a screaming Mazzy naked, forced her under the outdoor public shower and tried my best to get the sand out of her lady parts before she dragged it all in the burning hot car, I realized something.
She is her mother's daughter. And I am mine.