Life’s a beach…

The view from the violent sun shade

So, the Couper family decided to go to the beach today. Now, this in itself may not seem like such a big deal. Families go to the beach all the time, I hear you say. What’s the big deal, Lexxie? Well you see, my family is a little…odd (remember, we are the family who own the cannibal yabbies – oh, btw, Mornay is preggers! Yep, about a hundred babby yabbies on their way in the next week or so. The story behind this little miracle to come soon.) Anyways, back to the beach…

My husband works 27/7 (no mistake there. He literally bends time so he can work more. *grin*). We rarely get to do anything as a family, so when he suggested this morning we go to the beach, the girls were in their swimmers, towels in hand before he could even finish saying the words. Of course, straight after he said we would go to the beach, he promptly went into the backyard and proceeded to mow the lawn. This left me with two little girls so excited about the beach and so devastated we weren’t already there that they proceeded to have a sun-block lotion fight. In the kitchen.

So here I am, trying to make Vegemite sandwiches, fruit salad and carrot sticks to take to the beach (while simultaneously making all the beds, doing a load of laundry, stopping said sun-block lotion fight, cleaning up after said sun-block lotion fight AND feeding the dog) when my husband finally comes back in from outside and says, “Are we going or what?” Yes, I did want to scream. Instead I threw a Vegemite sandwich at him (all Aussies know how versatile Vegemite sandwiches are *grin*).

Finally, we get to the beach. It’s 10:30am and already 92 degrees fahrenheit. It’s hot, the carpark is full and just as we find an empty spot, the Demon Spawn (that’s my two year old, for those not in the know) does what all two year olds do when you most want them not to – she poos. Of course, I had her in a swimming nappy, designed to do what exactly, I’m not sure, but suffice to say, it’s not to stop poo getting everywhere. Poo got everywhere.

After about five years of cleaning (during which I discover I’ve left the spare swimming nappy at home) we leave the carpark and the Hazardous Substance Unit called in by an anonymous citizen and approach the beach. I am carrying the Demon Spawn and the bag containing the towels. My husband is carrying his phone and the bag containing the Vegemite snadwiches, fruit salad and carrots (I abandoned the notion of carrot sticks after being squirted with sun-block back in the kitchen). Peanut (my eldest, 5.5years going on 21) is carrying the bag containing all the sandcastle building equipment, a bottle of juice and – for reasons I still don’t understand – a silk gerbera.

Two things need to be said here. 1/ Peanut is a drama queen with zero pain tolerance. 2/ Demon Spawn (the two year old) can head-butt a bull and the bull would be rushed to hospital.

We stepped onto the sand and Peanut screams, drops the bottle of juice which splashes onto the leg of a nearby lifeguard, flings the silk gerbera away, never to be seen again and tries to scale my husband’s entire 6ft 5 frame in a single leap. Apparently, the sand is hot. The Demon Spawn of course, thinks this is hilarious.

We continue across the sand (children hanging off our bodies, one sobbing over her lost gerbera) until we find the perfect spot. By this stage, I realise we’ve left the pop-up beach shade back in the car. Peanut won’t touch feet to sand, the Demon Spawn is already sprinting toward the water and my husband’s holding the keys out to me with an expectant expression on his face. If I’d had a Vegemite sandwich in my hand, I would have thrown it at him. Instead, I threw the bag with the towels in it at him, chased the Demon Spawn down to the water, saved a couple of teenagers snogging on the wet sand from being jumped on by said spawn (obviously, they didn’t have a problem with the temperature of the sand) and then returned to Peanut and the husband. Both are giving me humoured looks.

I throw the Demon Spawn at them both and head to the car, only to get halfway there, realise I don’t have the keys, head back, snatch the keys from my husband’s hand (he is grinning at this point), head back to the car, grab the beach shade, get halfway back to the perfect spot only to get smacked in the side of the face when the beach shade pops open in my arms. Peanut asks if I found her gerbera.

Finally, I head to the water, Peanut holding one hand, the Demon Spawn the other. We are about five paces from the cool, crystal clear lapping water when someone nearby says the word one must never say near Peanut when we are one the beach: bluebottle.

This is a bluebottle. According to wikipeadia, the venom of a bluebottle “can paralyze small fish and other prey. Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those which wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live creature in the water, and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the creature or the detachment of the tentacle.[11] Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin which normally last about 2–3 days after the initial sting. Stings may also cause death.”

Just about every beach-going Aussie knows about bluebottles and Peanut is no exception. The difference is, Peanut is a drama queen. The second she hears the word ‘bluebottle’ she refuses to go into the water. So, I’m standing there with one child who won’t go into the water, one child pulling my arm from the socket trying to get into the water and a husband reading the weekend paper back in the violent beach shade.

I am not enjoying myself.

I take Peanut back to the shade (she is furious that unseen bluebottles would have the nerve to spoil her day at the beach), return to the water and am just about to start splashing about with the Demon Spawn when she says “wee”. The Demon Spawn is in the process of toilet training. I try to tell her its okay to do a wee in her swimmers (no nappy, remember) but she won’t have a bar of it. We leave the cool, crystal clear water and make our way to the public loo. I’m shoeless. The floor is wet. I have no idea if it’s sea water or urine. I try to walk over it without touching it. I fail. Dismally. I hold the Demon Spawn above the toilet seat until my arms begin to shake. She doesnt wee, but finds my trembling arms quite funny.

Eventually, I give up on the notion of public toilet urination for the spawn and carry her back to the water’s edge where she promptly wees all over my hip.

At this stage, I want to cry.

I wade into the waves, child on hip to wash away the wee. I’m hit by a wave that sends me tumbling backward onto my arse. Of course, I freak out about the Demon Spawn being under the water with me. I jolt to my feet, gripping her like mad, saltwater streaming down my face and stinging my eyes – only to find her giggling and saying “gen! gen!” (translation – Wow, Mumm, that was awesome! Can we do it again? Again, I say!)

Finally, Peanut decides she can’t deny the lure of the water anymore and comes running in. And runs straight into an incoming body-border who knocks her off her feet and sends her face first into the water. The Demon Spawn laughs so hard she gets hiccups. The body border gives me a baleful glare and mutters something about “stupid mums and dumb kids”. I flip him the bird. Well, I try to. I’m holding a hiccupping child on one hip and a crying child on the other. I finally decide it’s all too hard and return to the violent beach shade, only to discover that I’d failed to tighten the lid on one of the bottles of cold water I’d pack and the Vegemite sandwiches were now soggy.

I burst into tears.

My daughters hug me, the surrounding beach goers stare at me like I’m ten minutes away from being checked into the looney bin, and my husband looks at me with an unreadable expression. He leans toward me, cups my salty, sweaty, tear-streaked face in his hands, kisses my lips with a tender caress and says, “God, I love you.”

And with those four simple words, uttered so rarely from a man who works his arse off to provide everything he can to his maniacal family, everything is suddenly ok.

We spend three hours at the beach. Building sandcastle cities, collecting shells, climbing rocky outcrops, watching fish swim in the rockpools, looking for lost gerberas and splashing in the cool, cool water. The perfect Aussie summer morning. It is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Until I realise that, while I remembered to cover my children in sunblock, I failed to cover myself in the same.

I write this now, almost ten hours later, unable to sit down, the colour of a lobster and in a considerable amount of pain. But do you know what? All I can hear is my daughters’ happy laughter and my husband’s murmured words – “God, I love you” – and the pain goes away.

Well, kinda…

13 Responses to “Life’s a beach…”

  1. God!
    Only you Lexxie, only you. LOL

  2. sherryricardo Says:

    I read this aloud to my husband before even reading it myself because I knew it would be funny. He said he could picture everything you said clearly so he wasn’t surprised when I mentioned you were an author. He feels your pain but still asks when book 2 will be out. lol

    I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. OMG! Could anything else go wrong?

  3. ROFLMAO. What a hilarious male. I mean mail
    Can’t believe you managed to insert such a romantic twist into it.

    I’d love to say nothing like that ever happens to us, but we were at the beach today, with my 5 year old and my 8 year old and…

    I guess the only difference is we didn’t bring vegemite sandwiches along. I’m a strong believer that vegemite sandwiches have little use other than being thrown at annoying husbands or mopping up spilled water.


  4. Life’s A Beach – the Second Installment!

    Couper family pack for beach – 9:30am
    Couper family arrive at beach – 9:42am
    Couper family have the best morning every (no poo, no wee, no disgusting public loos, no bluebottles, no violent beach shades)
    Couper family return home – 1:10pm, sweaty, salty and smiling.

    *sigh* We finally got it right! Yay!

  5. vivianarend Says:

    Okay, reading a day late, but you still made me LMAO.

    I was snorting so loud my family wanted to know what was wrong. “We aren’t the only ones!!”

    I’m not alone in the insanity. Thank you for that reminder!


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