Bella contemplating the beach
I don’t tend to be a spontaneous person (yes, dad, I hear you laughing at that understatement); but today I threw caution to the wind and after lunch I packed Bella and the stroller into the car with some snacks and a bottle of water for me and a sippy cup for her and we headed out for a drive. We ended up at a beautiful municipal beach in a nearby town where there was free parking, and a free space and that was remarkably free of crowds.
Bella with a rock
I dragged the stroller onto the sand and then pulled Bella out and waited for her to take off. But she seemed bewildered by the whole thing. She just shuffled back and forth in the sand, never getting more than a few steps from the stroller. The shifting sand really seemed to throw her off balance. I took her hand and led her out into the surf, as soon as the first wave had brushed over her foot, she retreated back up the beach toward the stroller.
A short video of Bella, very unsure about all this sand.
It took a good fifteen minutes and finally I picked her up, carried her into the surf and stood there, holding her shoulders while the waves rolled in around her ankles. A little girl and her mohawked brother (he couldn’t have been more than 10, I kid you not) frolicked nearby and seemed to put her a little at ease. Eventually she reached down and grabbed a handful of mud. Then she plopped down on her bottom as a wave rolled in, getting the lower half of her sundress dirty. (Did I mention that as this was an unplanned excursion neither of us had suits?)
Bella: I’m not so sure about this place, mom.
Once she’d gotten used to the idea of waves, though, there was no stopping her. I began to regret her comfort level the third time I chased her halfway down the beach. She’d dart out into the surf and I have to yell at her to stop and dart to grab her just in case. (Though at least she did stop every time I yelled it.)
Adventuresome Bella. Note the wet skirt and muddy feet.
We had a mishap when she stopped to watch a family that was playing on the beach. One of the kids was burying mom and another was playing with dad. Evidently the son did or said something funny because the next thing I knew dad was literally rolling down the beach laughing. Rolling right into Bella and bowling her over. It was one of those moments: I saw it happening but it all went to fast to do anything to stop it. Poor Bella didn’t even see it coming, she’d turned to look at something else. Dad at first didn’t realize what happened. Then Bella started screaming. Tears rolled down her face. He was apologetic and tried to explain, to make friends with Bella. I had seen the whole thing and knew it was mere accident and tried to assuage his guilt even as I attempted to calm my howling daughter. (Later, as I was showering Bella off, I saw the mother who was waiting to clean up her own tykes and she apologized again, saying her husband was so sorry. Poor guy. The last thing he wanted, I’m sure, was to terrorize a baby.)
What with the falling down incident and several more of her own devising, it didn’t take long before the bottom half of Bella’s dress was soaked and caked in sand. It didn’t bother her a bit. (Must not take after her mother, who as a child hated getting sand in her sandals… in that regard, at least.) She continued to flirt with everyone around us, making friends with all the sunbathing ladies and the mothers with kids. She followed one woman and her daughters down the beach after they’d stopped to admire her. They kept turning back to see her following and waving cheerfully at their backs.
I confess, I look at that skirt hem and cringe.
We stacked rocks. Or, mostly, I stacked them and she knocked them down. She did put one rock on top of another, though. She waved a stick, threw my water bottle into the sand, picked up and bit into a half eaten green apple that was bobbing in the surf, and tried to steal several balls and a bucket.
After I showered her off and changed her into the spare shirt that was luckily in the diaper bag, I took her to the playground and pushed her on the swing to her very great delight.
She fell asleep in the car on the way home, clutching her sippy cup and a half-eaten hunk of bagel.
I think it was a successful day. Even if we didn’t have any towels, beach toys, or a plan.