The Beach and Waterboarding
Updated: Jan 29
Have you ever known anyone with small children that went on a beach vacation and told you it was great? I have. Prior to us experiencing our first beach vacation as parents we had at least two different couples tell us how great it was. The beach was the perfect vacation with a small baby they said. We’d have so much fun they said.
You know, I’ve started to have this sneaking suspicion that when parents go through something really awful they like to convince other parents it’s great so they can then laugh at seeing someone else fall into the pit of new parent naivety. Like when my friends told me taking a two year old and six month old on the Polar Express was a fabulous idea. It wasn’t. Or when we were told to travel as much as possible during the baby stage because it was the best time to do it. Wouldn’t say I agree with that either.
And that brings me to our first post-baby encounter with the beach.
We had decided to drive down to Gulf Shores, AL from Missouri. Pre-baby I had vacationed there plenty and had family that lived nearby. We loaded down our Ford Escape with enough baby gear to entertain the Duggar’s new round of little humans, a few items for ourselves, and my mother. We decided to drive straight through, because we had convinced ourselves that it would be easier than stopping and staying the night halfway.
The drive was going to be over 12 hours, so we started out as early in the morning as we could. Being savvy parents and all, we thought this would buy us some additional baby sleeping time in the car. We weren’t wrong on that part, and the first half of the trip was relatively uneventful.
Then there was the diaper blowout.
We pulled over to get gas and I took the opportunity to change our little guy. As soon as I unbuckled him, I realized his jumper seemed a tad wet and it wasn’t pee. The blowout had managed to come up and out the side, missing getting mashed in the carseat by some literal crap miracle. For eight months of caring for this baby, there had not been one blowout in the car, and there we were experiencing it for the first time in the middle of a 12 hour road trip. I carried my poop covered baby around the car to lay him in the backseat where I tried the ever challenging task of getting him cleaned up and changed without first making it worse. After about half a bag of wipes, only a small smear of poop in the car, and a change of clothes later we were back on the road.
We were lucky most of the rest of the way until about fifteen minutes before we were to arrive at the condo. We were then greeted with diaper blowout number two.
We were so close and any clean clothes left for the baby were god knows where in the mess of bags in the back, so I made the executive decision to forge forward. We just had to get there and all would be fine. We formulated a plan for when we arrived. I would run in to get the keys to the condo while my husband got the baby bag and baby ready to transport to the room. I walked in and waited to check in. I waited. Then I waited some more. I turned around to see my husband holding our poop covered baby. In his haste he had thought it would be a fast transition from the car to the room. It wasn’t, and this eventually resulted in my husband being poop covered himself before it was all over with.
We finally made it to the room, got everyone de-pooped, and opened wine. Everyone needed wine.
The next day I was so optimistic about our beach adventure. I was certain our guy was going to be the cutest beach baby out there. I’m not sure how or why, but it took nearly two hours from start to finish to get everyone ready to go down to the beach. We ensured every inch of our pudgy, pale cutie was covered in sunscreen, packed all the essentials which required some strategic planning on carrying to avoid making two trips, and headed down to the beach blissfully ignorant to what we were about to encounter.
Now would be a good time for me to mention there had been one huge change for us as parents the DAY before we left for vacation. Our child started to crawl. Yes, he picked the day before vacation to become mobile. I hadn’t fully thought through how drastically this changed our beach set up, but it did.
Prior to leaving for our trip I had purchased a little baby pop up tent. I pictured our baby rolling and cooing sweetly in there while we soaked up some sun and maybe even sipped on a Corona looking out over the peaceful ocean. A picture perfect family enjoying the beauty of the ocean and the sweetness of their new baby experiencing it all for the first time. Our baby with his new found mobility wasn’t interested in my postcard worthy vision.
We got down to the beach and all set up. Right away I noticed the look of skepticism on my son’s face. Why was it so bright? Who the hell were all these people? Why was it so noisy? Why was it so hot?
I laid him in his little tent with some toys and hoped he’d forgotten about his newly found mobility. He most certainly had not. He wasn’t about to lay there and sweetly play with his toys. He went right for the sand. After several times of moving him back, he finally made it to the edge where he immediately grabbed one tiny fist full and tried to eat it. I quickly attempted to prevent it from making a connection with his mouth, but was just a second too slow. He looked at me disgusted and started to scream. I tried frantically to get the sand away from his mouth envisioning all the bacteria that was making its way into my sweet babe’s body and while I was doing that he managed to rub his eyes with his little sandy, germ covered hands. Now he had sand in his eyes (I was certain he would go blind) and I knew I had to act fast. I grabbed a bottle of water and tried pouring some on his face to wash off the E-coli infected, blinding particles of sand covering my baby. This in fact did not help matters and when my husband came over to see what was happening, he accused me of waterboarding our baby.
We got the sand situation under control, but the damage was done. My son had a severe distrust of all things beach related at that point and we eventually packed up and went back to the room.
The total timeframe we were at the beach was 30 minutes. Yes, it took two hours to get ready to go down and we made it a whole 30 minutes. We didn’t dare try to go back down to the beach that day and as luck would have it, Tropical Storm Gordon rolled in the next and then my son got a double ear infection. We did get a couple of hours to enjoy those Coronas at one point while my mother watched the baby, but other than that, the trip wasn’t exactly what I’d call a vacation.
So what would I tell a new parent asking about taking the baby to the beach? Don’t. But if you must, here are some suggestions:
- Call the condo or hotel to find out if they have pack n plays or high chairs or search for a company that rents out baby gear where you’re vacationing to save from hauling your own.
- Tents are great, but babies can crawl out of them. Consider getting a little blow up pool they can play in and stay out of the sand.
- A cart to help haul our stuff to the beach would’ve been handy, I’d recommend one.
- Bring a portable fan (not sure why we had not thought of this, but we hadn’t).
- If possible, book somewhere with a pool just in case your baby isn’t a beach fan.
- Consider asking grandparents to come along if that’s an option. Great for many memory making reasons, but hey, they also can be good babysitters if you actually want to do a little relaxing on your vacation with kids.
- Set expectations low.
- Stock up on the wine.
- Don’t waterboard your baby.
We did get a couple of smiles on the trip the last day at the pool.