A day at the beach is no longer 'a day at the beach' when you have a toddler. Constant vigilance is required. And you have to decide quickly, at the very moment you put your child on the blanket under the umbrella, where you stand on the issue of sand eating. You know it doesn't taste good, but the baby doesn't. It's a new texture, a new feel, a new experience. It's fun and exciting.
We reluctantly conceded, and allowed Penelope to munch away. Fistfuls of sand. Sprinkles of sand. Even when we gave her a healthy and delicious snack, she mixed it with sand. Raisins dipped in sand. Goldfish garnished with sand. Sand covered pretzels. Never before has my daughter's poop been more tightly bound together and so easy to clean up. That's the positive thing about the sand eating. It is the tie that binds.
Last year at this time, Penelope didn't really do much of anything at the beach. My, how times have changed. She could give the lifeguards quite a workout if those underaged overtanned statuettes ever came down from their perches.
Penelope is a digging, dunking, crawling, climbing, falling, rolling, snacking machine. She's got something to do every moment. And none of it is done gracefully. Falling in and out of her baby pool like a drunken bachelorette party getting in and out of a cab. Slinking through the sand on all fours while grasping Lammie in one hand and some sort of mystery crustacean in the other. The girl gets sand in more indiscreet places than a hermit crab with claustrophobia.
Then, there is the vast oasis that is the Atlantic Ocean. No fear of the unknown for this child. In fact, ignorance is bliss. She is drawn to the water like a fly to a windshield. She runs smack in without a second thought. So you'd better be holding on, and you'd better be paying attention.
Do not think for a second that the frigid temperature will deter her either. It only seemed to enhance her experience even more. Giggling, cackling, gesticulating uncontrollably as every wave broke over her feet. Then we went in deeper, and they started to hit her waist. Even deeper in, and the waves were smacking her chest, and splashing her face. No fear. No rest. No want to get out, dad!
We had to drag her out of the ocean, kicking, screaming, and shivering. The great thing is, when she plays hard, she naps well. But that just makes her more well-rested for the next trip to that sandy, playful paradise. She gets excited just on the walk to the beach, filled with the anticipation of knowing where we're going. She simply loves it. A cosmic connection has been made.
Here's another great thing about Penelope at the beach: It's the only place where she will wear a hat, and keep it on. Go figure.
Once again, my daughter has exceeded expectations, managed to defy conventional wisdom, and amaze me yet again. I am not just bragging when I tell you Penelope has become an instant star of the sand and surf. We're already gearing up for the sequel.