My daughter told our neighbor yesterday “I”ve been to the beach once, when I was 4. I went to the beach in Looseeanna.”
Ah yes, the beach. In Louisiana.
I decided that I would take her to the beach. We live in East Texas, the land of droughts. We’re nowhere near the ocean.
The result? My daughter was 4 1/2 and kept calling our local splash pad a “beach.” So the next time we went to Nana’s house, about an hour away from the Gulf of Mexico, I decided I would pile the kids into my minivan and by golly, we were going to the beach.
No one in my family wanted to go with me. They knew better. Only my cousin, my beach-bum, Florida-loving cousin made the sacrifice to go with me and take our four kids to the beach.
Before we went, my mom prepped me.
“Now you know what Holly Beach is like, right? It’s not like Florida…”
“I know, Mom.”
I had never been, but I knew that was more of a fishing place than a soak in the sun kind of place. The sands wouldn’t be white. The water wouldn’t be crystal blue. But I just wanted my daughter to see the ocean and realize that a splash pad or a swimming pool is not a beach.
So we went to the beach. In Louisiana.
Brown water. Everyone is fishing.
We drove through miles and miles of marshes–gorgeous Louisiana marshland–to get there.
When we arrived, we parked and with the push of a button, my minivan doors were opened. And we were immediately swarmed by mosquitoes.
My 2 year old screamed and cried. He still hates bugs.
Somehow, I convinced him to get out of the van, so I slipped the baby into my Ergo carrier and we began walking towards the ocean. With every mosquito, my mommy radar was screeching West Nile Virus! West Nile Virus! and I would look down at my 10 month old infant with concern. Maybe this was a bad idea.
My toddler kept screaming, so my cousin volunteered to go back in the van with her 3 year old, my 2 year old, and my infant. Thank you, Sarah.
And my 4 year old? She had the time of her life.
She was jumping waves in the ocean with her mommy. It was the best 15 minutes of her life.
We jumped through exactly seven waves in the ocean before finally calling it quits. Visions of West Nile were still dancing through my head. She collected sea shells for her family and the whole world on our way back to the minivan.
For the grown-ups, it was a complete failure of a trip and a waste of sunscreen. We should’ve lathered up in bug spray instead.
But to my daughter?
All she knew was that she was jumping waves with her mommy. In the ocean. On a beach.
And she still talks about it today.
Why? Because the failures, the total busts, these are the stuff that memories are made of.
We can plan our perfect trips, and sometimes they really are idyllic. But other times? Other times, someone ends up puking in the car or we get rained out. Or mosquitoed out, as the case may be. But if we handle it right, to our kids, it’s not a bust. It’s an adventure.