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The Beach - a short story from a father of 2

It starts with an idea: "Hey we should do the beach tomorrow?".  And then ends with "I am never going to the beach again"

When i was in my early 20s, we would get up early af and head on down to the beach with every intention of beating traffic. I would bring a towel to lay on and maybe some sunblock.  That was it. We would stay as long as we wanted to and leave whenever. Simple. 

Today things have changed.  I am now a father of 2 girls - ages 3 and 5 - and oh my has this process changed.  Here is my perspective of beach life now as the world's greatest Dad. 

It starts with my kids jumping on us at 6:30am.  From 6:30-7:30, we will fight with the kids to put their bathing suits on as they are running around the house like they just downed a bottle of crazy juice.  Shouts will fill the air and finally the children will get their suits on.  During this process, one of the kids will hit the other and then crying will ensue.  This is the time I usually go in the shower ;-) 

I will then go downstairs and make my way outside to pack the car. The kids will follow and the entire time i will say "Please dont touch that. Please dont go in the street.  Hellooo?  Are you listening to me" as i am trying to pack the 78 things that we bring with us to the beach. 

Somehow the following items will all fit nice and cozy in our CRV trunk:

  • 4 chairs - 2 adults 2 kids
  • a giant foldup canopy
  • a beach cart (more on that later)
  • a "picnic" beach sheet
  • 3 baskets of beach shit like shovels and pales and rakes that the children will fight over all day long even though there is 3 sets on purpose of the exact same items
  • an extra tent for the kids just in case we need it - we dont
  • 1 bag filled with towels
  • 1 bag filled with clean clothes
  • 1 bag filled with accessories (sunblock, shampoo, soap (da fuq), etc
  • 1 soft sided cooler filled to the max with the essentials beer and water
  • 1 bag filled with lunch and fruit with a bunch of ice packs
  • 1 bag filled with lots of snacks and chips
  • 1 bag filled with other empty bags should we need it
Every bag was prepped by my wife prior which means it took lots of time and effort and most likely contains every single thing we need and dont.

This all perfectly fits in the trunk like a puzzle.  Its actually a thing of beauty and being a Dad I take great pride in. 

As the kids are fighting we are now waiting for my wife who is probably in the house prepping other stuff for the road while making herself beautiful.  Its usually at this time that i am saying under my breathe "now what is she doing!!" 

We finally get on the road. We have perfected this to be on the road by 9 and on the turnpike eating bagels by 9:15 with a delicious cup of coffee in hand.  Missing this time mark and your in traffic for 3 hrs. 

All smiles --- at least for the first 20 min until it starts.  

"Get off me" says the 3 yr old.  "Let go of it" says the 5yr old.  And let the games begin.  Fighting will start until the world's greatest Dad loses his mind and pulls over on the Turnpike threatening to "turn this car back around". Its usually at this time that my wife will say under her breathe "what the fuck is wrong with this guy". 

Like a light switch both kids forget they are mad at one another and start singing whats on the radio.  

"Despacito. pero quesa mesa becko way see comtay" sings one of my children as Bieber's beautiful Spanish sex lullaby fills the car making me smile again. 

5 minutes later the smile is broken. Traffic.  I start to lose my mind again and try to keep it together by just nonstop complaining.  "We should have left sooner."  "Ughhh why did we leave so late".  "This is not good. This is not good".  This will repeat on and off for the next hour as traffic comes and goes; especially Traffic Light Highway aka Rt 35 (named for the thousands of traffic lights every half mile)

Our children will get antsy and start the "are we there yet" song pretty early on.  But instead of asking the infamous question "are we there yet", they will ask "how many songs are left".  This was my genius idea of relating time with song length -- dam im good. 

"Well if your talking Boddyyyyy, you got a perfect one so put it on meeeeee " is being sung by my 5yr old. My wife and I look at each other in a horror/smile. 

The beach selection follows the simple guideline I created as followed:   
  • Age 22 and under - Seaside Heights
  • Age 23 to 28 - Belmar
  • Age 28 to 30 - Point Pleasant Tiki and Jenks area only
  • Age Over 30 - Anywhere that has bars and no kids
  • Age Over 30 with kids - Anywhere that has kids and no millennials
  • Age 45 and over with grown up kids - Point Pleasant Tiki and Jenks area only
  • Age 55 and over - LBI
So because we are in the over 30 with kids category, we prefer quiet, more family friendly type beaches, because we are old and this is what old people do.  So we have been checking out Sea Bright which is a sweet little beach with some great places to eat and drink nearby.  AND its only like an hour from our home. Shahhh.  HOWEVER, like most beach spots in NJ, parking is a son of a motherless whore.  And so this process can be a race to find parking as you try to out maneuver one another to get that one open parking spot in a lot for only 150 cars.  After lots of cursing and stalking/following innocent people going back to their cars after an early morning beach stroll, we get a spot. Sweet. 

Now comes the unpacking of the car.  As my wife is going to feed the meter, the kids are over excited and not listening.  So there i am again, but this time unpacking the car, as the kids are yelling and screaming and not listening to a word i say.  My wife is like the street nazi so the second the kids get in the busy parking lot "street", you can hear the Devil itself speaking demon language to the children forcing them to hug my leg as i am trying to unpack the car. Its quite scary. 

I fill up the beach cart with the 78 items that we brought with us.  Once again, its a science to fill it perfectly and i am a very proud world's greatest Dad.  As I am packing the cart, many cars will drive by me and ask if I am leaving because apparently it looks like i am (question mark?)  

This poor little cart has chairs and canopies and tents and coolers and towel bags and beach accessories and anything else you can think of attached to the front, back and inside the cart area.  My wife is patiently patting thick white goop all over the kids making them look like Powder.  And now the trek begins. 

Too much sunblock

There I am.  A 38yr old proud Dad with sweat dripping on every part of my body (every part) as I pull this tiny/giant cart with 78 items that we may/may not need from the parking lot to the beach.  I do this thinking family first, as I imagine a day of smiling, happy children, and then a beer second, that I will be downing shortly.  The second the cart hits the sand it stops.  I then need to turn it around and pull, causing the soreness of my joints to scream Glucosamine.  I pull and pull and pull as my kids have absolutely nothing at all to carry, yet are complaining that the sand is too hot. To think i use to chug beers on the beach and now I am chugging a small home on the beach. Blasphemy. 

We find our spot and take up shop.  I put up the giant canopy that takes up enough space for the Duggar family.  I setup the chairs and put in the weights for the canopy.  I then throw all the kids beach toys all around us marking our territory.  One of the children will yell that they wanted the shovel over here instead of over there. Crying will ensue.  Drenching sweat will continue. 

A young couple sits nearby glancing over at me losing my mind, sweating like a faucet and putting shit together as if I'm the beach carpenter - hey Jesus was a carpenter.  The young couple has a pair of headphones, an umbrella and 2 towels. Thats it.  The good life. 

Finally, after 5 hours of packing, driving and unpacking, I am sitting cozy in my chair in the shade. Ahh relax time.  This lasts for a good 3 minutes when the children now want to go to the water.  I tell them to let Daddy relax a bit.  The "can we go in the water now" song will start and continue until I give in. 

I give in.  5 minutes after relaxing I am now taking turns with them in the water, holding them up so they dont get pummeled by the waves.  This will continue for hours.  My back will hurt.  My head will hurt.  My body will get red and scorched.  I will play with them in the sand.  Get buried.  Break up fights.  Save children and wife from flying umbrellas with daggers at the end. Yet somehow, i will smile because its all worth it. 

That is until we get ready to leave.  This will be the hardest part as I am tired, sweaty and sandy.  My body feels tired and burnt.  My eyes are itchy and red.  I have sand in areas of my body that I didn't know sand can enter.  The kids are tired as fuck yet dont want to leave and are miserable.  I look over and that nice young couple is still laying in the exact spot, on the exact towels, in the exact position.  Just laying there. Doing nothing. Simple life. 

I begin the packing process and begin my pulling trek back to the car as my wife is washing the girls off in the outdoor shower.  Somehow, someway she is able to change them back into clean clothes (that was part of clean clothes bag) because this is what Mothers do. Me, on the other hand, am doing what I am supposed to and thats carrying and pushing heavy shit and cursing under my breathe with a plastic smile i wear proud.

I pack the car using the same Bart science that i have applied in the morning. The car looks perfect.  I look a mess.  I make my way back to clean up in that outdoor shower thing. In 5 minutes, i am clean and changed and look like a Bronze God.  We go grab a bite to eat and a much needed beer. The tired kids will either be in super silly mode or fight every chance they get.  The check will come and we will be happily on our way home. 

Then it happens.. fucking traffic.. and oh.. so.. much. The only good thing is that both kids are passed out within the first 3.5 minutes in the car.  Gangsta rap music blares out of our speakers to replace the kid's silence.  Our heads bop in sync to Chance the Rapper taking us to Church. 

We get home and carry both kids to bed. My wife will cringe and even suggest to wake them beacause they are "filthy". I tell her shes fucking nuts and go pack downstairs to - you guessed it - unpack the car. 

11pm i am laying down in bed finally relaxing. Things have changed for sure.  15 years ago, we woke up, went to the beach and came home.  Life was simple.  So so simple.  That young couple on the beach are probable still there. Who knows.  

Yet somehow the beach day was fantastic.  Incredible.  Phenomenal. How is that possible?  I smile as I think of all the memories I gave my kids today -- not counting the screaming and life threats :-( -- and close my eyes.  Suddenly, I hear some groans from the kids room.  One of them is having a nightmare. FML. 



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