On a whim, today, we decided it would be a beach day. Jamie was out of town rafting with friends, not something that I was up for doing at eight months pregnant, in Canmore – so it was the perfect time to head out of town on a girls trip. Nice and close to the city, about forty minutes from Sherwood Park, we arrived at Allen Beach with a bag with three towels, cookies, a dry bag for car keys and phones, and a wet bag for swimsuits.
Tasking the kids with an easy job of grabbing toys for the sand and beach, since the pool floats were already in the Flex from the last adventure we embarked on, I handed them the bag at home, and didn’t look in it again until we arrived at the beach.
We arrived at Allen Beach, paid the $15, and headed down to the water.
The kids opened the bag, and took out: one rubber duck, one shovel and one Secret Life of Pets happy meal stuffed toy (I know, right?)
There is where the parenting styles of Jamie and I slightly differ. I reminded the girls three time to get the toys they wanted to play with at the beach, because we were going to spend a few hours there. The third time, we left.
He would have gone to the garage, scoured the backyard and helped the kids pack up the toys. Me? They’re seven and four, they can manage to grab a couple of buckets from the sand toy pile in the garage, and put them in a bag. If they don’t, like today, they might learn a lesson in personal responsibility, and remember, next time, to pack better.
There, at the beach, the lesson probably didn’t register, as there were many, many children, with many, many toys. They somehow ended up in another kid’s inflatable raft, played with our blanket neighbours bucket and shovel and didn’t whine when I took away the stuffed cat they brought, because it wasn’t a beach toy. They played for three hours, with the shovel, the duck and the popsicle pool float and tube we brought along, tired and ready for a quick break in an air conditioned car on the way home.
On the way home, we talked about the things that may have been helpful to pack: the water guns, the buckets for sand castle making and the cool toy that splashes water.
Will they remember the toys next time? Pack more? Pack better?
As parents, it’s our job to prepare these young people to live their own lives, to be responsible in their own lives, and something as simple as ‘grabbing the toys for the beach’ does just that – small steps, small steps.