Knowing that nothing is ever as hard the second time around, we attempted a second trip to the beach during our recent holiday. We’d learnt from our mistakes the first time and were much better prepared. Or at least we would have been if we’d had the key to the storeroom and could have unearthed the beach umbrella. As it happened, the key went back to Pretoria with my father-in-law so we had to improvise. More on that later.
Our second beach expedition took place once the school holidays had ended so our audience was far smaller. But as we came down the steps, we noticed one super organised family who had constructed some sort of mini-theme park on the beach. Allow me to paint you a picture:
- There was a gazebo type thing, big enough to comfortably provide shade to a family of four.
- There were deck chairs.
- There were cooler boxes – no doubt filled with tasty treats and ice cold drinks.
- And then there was the entertainment area – an inflatable paddling pool, under it’s own umbrella in which a baby was happily splashing around. As if the being on the beach wasn’t enough.
By contrast, our position on the beach looked like this:
I guess it’s good to have something to aspire to. Although Col did point out that as someone has to carry all that stuff, and as it’s most likely to be Dad, his opinion is that our system is perfectly adequate.
Being a new person in the world Cameron is experiencing a lot of firsts, but the slightly less obvious implication of that is that Colin and I are too. While we’ve grown a lot in caring for Cam, every now and then we have a crisis of confidence. These periods of doubt usually occur when doing something which will be observed by:
- other parents
- professionals who work with babies, or
- the general public which can contain either (or both) of the above.
In such situations we are left feeling incredibly nervous, as if expecting the Parenting Police to leap out from behind a bush and demand an explanation on why we are doing what we are doing. Of course, when one is nervous the tendency for silly mistakes and stupid decisions is greatly enhanced, perpetuating the cycle of potential judgement that we are afraid of. Cameron’s first trip to the beach was an occasion such as this …
As it was an incredibly hot day we decided to make it a short trip and so arrived armed with only a few towels, the nappy bag and of course our baby. The beach was packed so we made our way past the crowds to a section where the waves washed up gently over some low rocks. We put all our stuff in a pile on the sand, turned on the camera and prepared for the momentous moment. The first wave didn’t quite reach us but a bigger one soon came along. However as we were all focusing on Cameron and not on the waves, we didn’t see just how big it was. It caught us from the left and the right, meeting just where we were standing and causing Col to sit down rather promptly. Convinced the entire beach was watching us, we tried to ignore our blunder by cooing at Cameron who was now experiencing the wet sand on his feet. The next moment we heard someone calling us and to our horror we looked up to see that the wave had not only unseated Colin but also washed our towels, shoes and nappy bag down the beach. Burning with embarrassment, Leigh-Anne and I rushed around collecting our scattered possessions.
We made a fairly swift departure after that. Back home I spent half an hour cleaning sand off everything (quick product review – beach sand actually comes off the Baby Moov nappy bags surprisingly easily so good job there). Combined with the half an hour it took to get Cameron ready to leave in the first place, that works out to an hour of effort for 10 minutes on the beach. Not a good ratio!
To conclude, it was an utterly embarrassing experience which left us looking not only like rookie parents but also like complete tourists who have no idea how to go about a successful trip to the beach. And the real irony is that the entire exercise was more for our benefit than Cam’s; I wouldn’t say he enjoyed his first beach trip so much as tolerated it!
Spot the parents who are paranoid about sunburn.
Note the crouching father – this is pre-wave.
‘How many more of these “firsts” do I need to experience?’
Col’s dad has a flat at Simbithi Eco Estate in Ballito, and we decided to pop down there once Col got back from Scotland if the opportunity presented itself. Two weeks ago, everything started falling into place and 11 July saw us driving down to the Natal north coast.
The break could not have come at a better time. In the 10 days since Col had come back from Scotland, I had finished work, my parents had stayed with us for a week and Speckle had his baby shower (which I’ll post about when I get some photos). As a result, we’d been passing each other like ships in the night and I had been struggling to slow down the pace I was operating at. We spent four idyllic days going for long walks in the estate or on the beach, snoozing and watching movies. Over the weekend that we were there, the rest of South Africa suffered under the worst cold front of winter, while we enjoyed 25 degree days. We did as little as possible and it was wonderful!
On our last day we went out for lunch at a restaurant on the beach, and were amazed to see two whales just beyond the breakers. I have never seen whales on the north coast, and the locals were as enthralled as we were. They were too far away to get a good photo, but we could clearly see their tails and plumes of spray as they dived and resurfaced.
We drove back on Monday 16 July and since then Col has hit the ground running. August, September, October and November are always busy months for him and this year looks to be no exception. The few days away broke the hectic cycle I’ve been in, and I’m managing to set a much slower pace for myself as we get ready for Speckle.