I won't romanticize it.
That's what I thought for the two hours that flew by like minutes, with the sun and the spray of the surf and the laughing children with their long, healthy limbs glowing and wet and then sandy. We will make a tunnel to China!
"I love it! The water, I love it!" said Coco-pop, who has been morbidly afraid of water since she went under last summer, her eyes open wide, fear shaking her little body as I pressed her to me, you're okay, you're okay, I got you, Ima's got you and Turtle, whose vocabulary has tripled since his second birthday last week echoed,
Princess did not have to tell me that she loved it. Her normally rigid existence, pinned down with her self-made rules, was a wild thing, a free thing, as she ran into the waves and let them hug her as she seldom lets me.
I threw a clump of wet sand at her, and at first she froze, unsure. Then she tried being miffed and crying. Then she ran over to me, hands outstretched, and at first I thought that she wanted a hug, but no, she rubbed sand onto my shirt, my scarf, and I said, "Princess!" spitting out wet sand and then laughed and we ran, together into the waves.
I thought that I didn't understand her. Her rules and her cutting brilliance, her high IQ that puts her into the "gifted" category and makes life into a thing that is hard for her, is all from Outdoorsman's side. But I found that in certain things she is me. I pretend not to worry but I worry so much, like her. In the water, my eyes dart from child to child. "Where is Turtle??" I scream, scanning the water for a bobbing head, and then we all laugh; he is in my arms. She worries about everything and I tell her, Don;t worry, stop worrying! that's what Ima and Abba are for, but I remember worrying when I was her age, worrying about the dark and what it was hiding from me.
I drank a beer, cold from the cooler, because I wanted the salty taste of the beach on my lips, in my belly, as I watched my children and husband build a tunnel to China, their shrieks as the sides caved in and China, ever illusive, dissapeared from view.
After two hours, Princess needed the bathroom, Coco-pop got a cut on her finger, Turtle sensed the change in mood and decided to be overtired, and we dragged our wet things and the scorching hot sand burned the soles of our feet and sat in the car and the traffic, sticky and uncomfortable and sunburned.
But before that, there was our day on the beach. Unromanticized. But perfect.