Friday, July 9, 2010


We are not big on sunscreen in this family. Although we are avid beach goers, and live in sunny San Diego, we forego conventional prevention strategies in favor of deferred maintenance. Scumscream, as we prefer to call it, is just too sticky, too greasy, too pore-blocking, too messy, and too get-in-your-eyes. We can't be bothered.

Hats, the same. Sunglasses too. Beach umbrellas? No. Only on occasion (like a baptism party or everyday-beach-week) do we lug out our pop-up shade tent. Fact is, we prefer to travel light for our brief stays at the beach. Chairs? Leave 'em at Longs. Towels, maybe one to share. A book, get real! We wear our suits, drive down, take a dip, dry off and swing back up the hill.

We spend most of our time actually waiting for a parallel parking spot to open up along our favorite strip of isolated beach. These coveted spots grant access to a crowd-free section of beach between two more popular public parking lots (ok, maybe I am anti-social). They also accommodate Reid's propensity to "wait in the car" until he's ready for the sandy transition across rocks to water or if he needs to escape the wind. It's a coastal variation on car camping one could dub, car beachgoing.

This presents a problem on vacations in Nantucket where Natty and Papa Jim move at a different pace. They take chairs which strap onto your backs, coolers of food, books, last month's periodicals, today's paper, ipods, cutlery and linens.

Literally, by the time they got their cups situated in the cup holders of the folding director's chairs, Reid was charging out of the surf announcing, "I'm done now, let's go home!"

Our compromising solution to gradually change his habit, build flexibility, and meet divergent expectations, was to designate a specific time that we'd leave. Jim let him hold his waterproof watch which he studied like a pixelated Disney trailer. Each day we inched the time up from 10 to 30 minutes of imposed reclining in the sun ("chill-axing" in the family vernacular), after his ritual dip in the waves.

Making it concrete like this part. That's not to say he played frisbee, relaxed, or read the paper. Picture him instead buried under a towel so the digital LED numbers were visible in the bright daylight. He burrowed there clock-watching like I used to do in gym class until dismissal time.

On the minute, he shot up erect with the announcement, "It's 4:30, let's go! Pack up everyone." Handing them paraphernalia and scooping up his towel, he beat feet back to the car. Always first and undeniably decisive, the kid has "therious leaderthkip thkills, as Kip would lisp. (Napoleon Dynamite being the flavor of the month last summer.)

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait
for it patiently. Romans 8:24-26

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:5-7


  1. Scumscream. That's perfect! Pore-blocking is my beef with the stuff, particularly on the nose.

    Thanks for the window on your beachgoing experiences!

  2. Xloxk watching - an ingenious activity....maybe you could invent a frisbee that only updates the time after being thrown...then frisbee throwing could be reinforced by receiving time check updates! What? Too much?

  3. we use the spray ons that dry as quick as possible, and only submit to the lotion that is labeled "baby-non stinging!" for the face, and in very small doses, applied with a makeup sponge. both of my kids scream at the spray on, because it's cold and is wet for a moment, then it's dry and they no longer care. my daughter now tolerates the face application, but i have to sit on my son and he ends up looking like a cave painting with white hand prints sufficing for sunscreen.