The Indignities of Summer

What is it about us that draws the beach crazies to our sides? How do we always end up sitting next to the woman who’s loudly recounting the details of her last yeast infection via cellphone, pausing only to curse at her children for throwing yet another handful of sand at a baby? I’m only slightly exaggerating. I’ve never actually experienced those situations simultaneously but have, on separate occasions, lived through each one. And that’s the truth.

Today when we emerged from the dune grass, I scanned the beach to root out any potential situations. The right side of the beach was sparsely populated, but why? Was it still early enough that it simply hadn’t filled in or was there something funky going on? It was a gamble but it seemed safe enough. There were no cigarette smoking, tattoo covered women hoarsely yelling at their children. There were no obnoxious swearing teenagers, no crotchety seniors and the tide was out. Good enough. We eked out our temporary beach front property and settled in to enjoy the first day of summer.

It took precisely 10 minutes for that kid to show up. You know, That Kid. The kid whose number I immediately had. The kid who was going to annoy everyone for the next two to three hours. The kid who proceeded to stomp on Gwen and Kate’s sand castle, who dumped a bucket full of Joe’s carefully collected hermit crabs and stuck his grubby little hand in the container of watermelon and strawberries I was holding out for my children while his mother sat on her beach towel and watched it all go down. Exactly how many times should one be expected to politely steer someone else’s child away from our food/blanket/lives before his mother intervenes? Finally, Gwen got fed up.

getting a little huffy...can you see it in the walk?

“Who are you anyway?” She fixed her squinted gaze upon the boy whose  only response was a hearty itch to the crotch. I watched Gwen’s shoulder’s raise in a question, “Hmm? Who…are…you? Where is your mommy?” Now she was speaking to him as if English might be his second language. “Do you talk? Hey. Hey. Kid. Stop touching my brother’s herman crabs. This is the last time I’m going to ask you nicely.”

That Kid invading Gwen's space

Generally speaking, I tend to intervene much earlier if there are signs that a situation is developing. However on occasion, I can’t help but stand back and let Gwen go. Just a little bit. She’s the one child I have that stands up for herself and her siblings. She’s especially protective of her big brother who tends to be passive or respond with frustrated tears. The first evidence of Gwen’s gumption was back in Boston. She was about 16 months old when she noticed the neighborhood terror terrorizing Joe at the park. She toddled over to Diego, a.k.a. the Terror of Hobart Park and, before anyone knew what was happening, she delivered a deft series of slaps to Diego and punctuated each with a stern, “NO! NO! NO!”

Now, as Gwen grabbed the reigns and attempted deal with the kid, his mother finally joined the fray and cast a disapproving look in my direction. As if I should stop Gwen from being frustrated with her child who had now inserted himself into all of her fun and destroyed it with his bad behavior. I ignored her, just as she had ignored us for nearly an hour. She knelt down on our blanket and began asking her son questions like, “How is this making you feel?” I tried to kill the laugh that was building and refrained from snapping back, How about how he’s been making us feel? Why don’t you use this as an opportunity to point out self-awareness and manners, huh lady? And get the hell off our beach blanket! 

She finally led him away by asking him if he needed to do the “bathroom dance”. As in, “*Parker, would you like to go to the bathroom and do the bathroom dance?” (*not his real name.)

What? Seriously…what?

Joe sidled up to me, all the while casting his trademark, you’re freaking me out so please go away side-eye stare upon the kid. “”Hey, mom…that kid and his mom are going to go dance in the bathroom.”

While they were gone we moved to a new location.

Joe and Gwen were so eager to put some distance between themselves and the kid that they gladly and quickly helped me move the blanket, chairs and toys. Honestly, I’ve never seem them perform in such a focused and efficient manner. “Hurry up, Mom! Before that kid comes back and sees us!”

Freed from our captor, we were able to enjoy a few hours at the beach. Once the children were sufficiently coated in sand and the tide began driving us back toward the dunes, it was time to leave. My salty, sand covered little people and I patiently waited at the showers while all the other mommies attempted to blast the sand out of their children’s cracks and crevices. Finally, our family of four crammed into the outdoor shower and, as I assisted in sand removal from girl parts, I noticed that Joe had pulled his bathing suit down and stuck his rump under the cold shower. “Mom, I think I have a rash on my butt!” His was voice elevated so I’d hear him over the splash of the shower. The mom in line behind me and I made eye contact, suppressed our laughter and shared one of those silent moments where we nearly read one another’s thoughts.


As I helped Kate rinse her body, she screamed at the shock of the cold water spraying her legs. Then she started doing that weird toddler thing where she was suddenly unable to stand. She grasped at my leg, hands searching for a pair of pants to hold onto but I was still wearing my bathing suit. Somehow, probably because I was bent over trying to help Gwen into her sundress, Kate was able to find purchase by grabbing ahold of my bathing suit top.  Using my triangle bikini top, Kate was able to save herself from continuing her floppy fall and at the same time, successfully exposed my left breast to the entire line of people waiting for the showers.

And that is just one of the indignities of Summer.

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  1. Lisa Steele says:

    I can’t even think of a comment I’m laughing so hard! Hopefully today will be better!

  2. Wow that kid and his mom made quite the pair, huh? Here’s hoping your next beach trip is less ahem eventful 🙂

  3. Holy crap!!! PEOPLE. What is wrong with PEOPLE? “How is this making you feel?” Well, Mother-so-fancy, how does this bop on your head make YOU feel? Ugh. I do literally wish I could hit people when they are like that. Should work on my violent streak.

    And I am sorry that your boob was revealed to the beach, but seriously….am pretty jealous that your swimsuit top is made out of triangles!

    • Don’t be jealous, the bottom part is made of those old-fashioned bloomer things they wore at the turn of the century.

  4. How does that make you feel? How does that make you FEEL? Grrrrrr….You moved me from giggling to frowning to laughing my head off at the last.

    • Thanks, Kelly! I’m glad I was able to lead you through a whole gamut of emotions in one short post 🙂

  5. After gaining my composure from laughing so hard! I can totally relate! I hate those people who don’t watch their kids! It’s so annoying and it ruins the day. Love the post! and thanks for the laugh!!

  6. We had a kid like that last summer. Terrorized every single kid on the beach. And their parents. Thankfully I think he got stung by a jellyfish. Kidding! Sort of. Your kids are sweet little ones. And I too, am jealous of the bikini thing going on. Haven’t personally donned one of those things since my stint as member of the Duran Duran fan club.

  7. I like Gwen. She’s just a plucky, passionate little thing, isn’t she? Good for her for standing up to That Kid. Was it just me, or did you seriously want to slap That Kid’s Mom. I just don’t get people like her…they only become aware of other people when they feel like there kid is getting abused somehow. Never mind that her kid is an annoying little punk. Whatever.

    I’m super jealous of beach days, sandcastles, and hermit crabs. I’m not so much jealous of the flashing incident, but hey, I’ll just betcha some of your new beach friends enjoyed the show. And there are worse things…I’m sure of it. That Kid for instance.

  8. I’m dying from laughing. But seriously? What mother lets her child rampage all over someone else’s beach area and then asks them how they FEEL about getting told? For shame!

  9. “How did that make you feel?” Wth? Who cares how he felt. He was being a little terrorist and mom should have reined him in. Good for Gwen!

  10. Oh my gosh, are you SERIOUS!?!? Who SAYS that? I swear I was ready to punch her too (Dweej’s comment was hilarious, I felt much ditto-ness.) And I felt your pain with that, and flashing people involuntarily. 😀 I’ve been there too many times with the boob-baring!! My son seems to think my shirts are all made for catch-handles and napkins.

    You are so right about “what is it about US that draws beach crazies to our sides?” How the heck do those people find us??? 😀 Laughing out loud… at the end of a long shift at work all night. So that means it’s extra funny!!! You rock Kelli


  1. The Horror! says:

    […] the middle of Toys R Us… unless you count that time at the beginning of the summer where she pulled my bikini top off at the beach. Anway, the last time I braved an excursion to Toys R Us with Kate was in […]

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