Driving to the beach - the farther one, not the public one - I pass a couple of small, family owned restaurants. Crabs! scream the signs. Fried fish! Shrimp! They are little, side of the road places - the kind you see in movies, the dark hole in the wall places that you just KNOW serve the best seafood.
I fantasize that I leave the beach, hot and sandy, worn out from the rigors of laying out in the sun for hours, and stop at one of these places. I fantasize about walking into this little hole in the wall restaurant, wearing a beach cover up and flip flops, and sitting down to a nice cold drink and some equally cold shrimp. I have it all planned - know exactly how it will feel to walk in, sun soaked, salt and sand laden, and sink into the air conditioning, dreamily sucking the crab meat out of the legs and dipping the chilled shrimp into the cocktail sauce. You know the deep fatigue I speak of, the one that comes from doing absolutely nothing. Fish in baskets on the table, tartar sauce and hot fries. I'll eat hush puppies until I explode, and then make my way home to sleep a deep, dreamless sleep. I picture it in my mind every time I drive past these places.
It's a silly fantasy. I don't like fish and every time I have this dream, I'm in the restaurant alone, or with my husband.
I never go to the beach alone. Much less with my husband. It's always with the kids. And, although I do love my kids, the above would never happen with them. Instead of my silly fantasy, I present to you -
The Reality of Friday's Trip to the Beach with Four of my Kids.
Child A asked me if she could bury her flip flops. She reassured me that she does it ALL the time and she'd mark it so that the shoes could absolutely, positively be found. I've been to this rodeo, my friends, and I know how the game is played. I told her no. She waited until I was absorbed in reading - Game of Thrones, very good, very worth it - and did so anyway. When it was time to leave, she couldn't find her shoes. She and her siblings and the friends we were with dug in the area for a good long while, but the flip flops were never found. At which point we discovered that she'd buried her BROTHER'S identical flip flops, not her own. And then she said, "Well, it's no big deal. At least I still have shoes."
Until I informed her that she was now going to give her shoes to her brother. And go without. She cried, "But I didn't bury mine! I buried his!" and all of the logic in the world wouldn't sway her. I finally said, "He didn't chose to bury his shoes and lose them. You were willing to do that with yours - and so now, just pretend that you did."
She sobbed all the way to the van.
As we loaded in, my 13 year old let out a shriek of total and complete terror. "My iTouch! Riley's water bottle spilled!" Yes, friends, she'd earned enough babysitting money to buy herself an iTouch - 2 days earlier. She'd brought it to listen to in the van and despite contrary instruction, she'd chosen to bring it TO the beach (to show her friend), and she'd tossed it into the beach bag. The bag full of water bottles, and one opened - leaving the beloved new iTouch in a pool. Riley heard her name, felt guilty, and SHE began to cry.
So, count with me now - I have one child crying because it's SO UNFAIR that she has no shoes. I have one kid grumpy because HIS shoes were gone and he was FORCED to wear his sister's shoes. I have one kid screaming because her iTouch is soaked and not working and one remaining kid crying because she thinks her sister is upset with her.
This is what I drove home to, while my daughter used my phone to frantically google search how to save a soaked iTouch - it's now sitting in a ziploc of dry rice, for the first of three days.
I don't think my fantasy will ever come true. But that's the good thing about fantasies - you can visit them, again and again.