Beach Friends

When I was four, I had a deep pink one piece bathing suit with a white ruffle around my legs. It either had polka-dots or little flowers in the accenting color on each section. I can still see it in my mind’s eye; I loved that bathing suit. I also loved the little boy with the blue-and-yellow raft. We made fast friends and I commandeered his raft for most of the week. He was my first beach friend.

The year that I was 14, I made a boyfriend at the beach. He didn’t know I was awkward, because who looks awkward in a killer blue bathing suit? (With glasses on since my astigmatism in the early 90′s didn’t mesh with contact wear.) Okay, so I was awkward, but I was apparently the only girl on our stretch of beach. He was cute with a deep, gorgeously thick Southern accent. I’ve Facebooked him. He doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

On our first day at the beach last week, we were playing in the “Little Water.” It’s what we call the tidal pool made by a sand bar when the tide goes out on The Point at Emerald Isle. It’s perfect for younger children. And parents. And grandparents. Really, it’s just perfect. A mom with a Green Bay (…) visor on struck up a conversation. She had a five year old, like BigBrother, and an adorable little 18-month-old who thought he was Big Stuff. We got to talking about how everything changes with the second child. “You wanna eat sand? Okay buddy! It’s fiber!” We laughed and compared mothering war stories. We shared what we do. We had the insta-beach-bond. Our five-year-old boys played together. It was awesome.

editmiles

And then she went home.

I was sad, I’ll admit. It’s been awhile since I’ve made a beach friend. The past few years, I’ve been busy uber-entertaining two little boys who were too young to entertain themselves. But as they were busy splashing each other, building sand castles and chasing fish, I had time to sit, read, float and make a beach friend. But she was only in for an extended weekend. And she left. And I didn’t make another beach friend all week. Especially not with the two moms who laughed as their four sons pushed BigBrother under the LittleWater as they attacked him with inflatable sharks. (By the way, I totally did a non-slow-motion Baywatch beach run to stop that nonsense. In a bikini. Oh yeah.)

The only thing I know about my beach friend is that her name is, amusingly, Jen. I told her I blog and that I work for BlogHer, so maybe she’ll find me. But beach friends are best at the beach, just like camp friends work best at camp. The boys made a few beach friends over the week, but most of the kids on our stretch were a bit older. A few did help them search for fish and crabs a couple of times, but they were in a gaggle of cousins and had beach friends built into their stay. LittleBrother did take a picture of a little girl he thought was cute (and she was), but she was too busy to notice as he stood and watched her walk away.

Parker's Little Girl

These are the random people who make it into our family vacation photo albums. I don’t know if they’ll remember the friends they made this year as much as I remember that first little boy I picked up on the beach. But I’m sure they’ll make more beach friends next year. And I hope to as well.

Beachy Brothers

This year, more than last, these two guys have been getting along quite well.

Raft

Last year, they played together. But they stood in front of us on our beach chairs and whined: “Will you build a sand castle with me?” Or, “LittleBrother smashed my castle!” Or, “Is it time to go in the Big Water yet?” Or, “I’m huuuuunnnngry.” And our heads would explode, but we would oblige because that’s what good parents do on vacation at the beach. They sit in the sand — and get sand in places that sand should not be — and build 80 million sand castles that will be stomped on post-haste. They take the kids in the Big Water even though they’ll ask to go back to the Little Water in 5 minutes. They fish out sandy snacks. They carry tired, crying kids back to the beach house, wrestle the children out of sandy bathing suits and wash out the sand glued to their scalps — gently.

But this year? They have been building their own sand castles… and smashing them together. They run down to the Little Water and pull each other in the surf. They put on their swimmies and swim and swim and swim in the Little Water. They chase the seagulls away… together. They sit on the raft and float out to sea (which obviously involves some adult standing around and pulling them back every 10 minutes). They search for shells. They try to catch fish with the net and bucket. They argue, but they play.

It’s freaking heavenly.

I said to FireDad that the next handful of years (plus) should be great. They will play together. They will get in trouble together, too. But they’ll play. And build. And swim. And float. And we’ll join in, but we won’t have to provide the entertainment. Shortly after this discussion, a pair of brothers walked down the beach. The older one was slightly shorter and more broad shouldered than the younger one. The older one had darker hair and a better tan. The younger one was quite thin, light haired and super pale. My mom and I joked, “Look, it’s future BigBrother and LittleBrother.” And, so, apparently someday they will walk down the beach scoping for hot girls.

But I will always remember them this way.

Raft