It was Saturday morning and although I swore never to go on another road trip with the kids again, it’s sort of like when you drink too much. You swear blind you are never doing it again because the hangover was so bad that you set up camp in the bathroom with cream soda and myprodol. But come the next social event, the dry heaving and pounding head are a distant all but forgotten memory, so you say sure one drink won’t hurt and dive right back in. The same could be said of my road trip with the kids, even though it was only an hour’s drive. One hour, six hours. One drink, six drinks. It’s neither here no there.
So it was that I found myself in the car enroute to Bazley Beach on KZN’s South Coast, and yes, with the kids in tow. But this time I was smart. I left the takkie wearing Tebs at home. (Can I get a hell yeah?)
My cuzzie Justin & Heidi invited us to camp with them for the weekend. After I stopped laughing I suggested I just visit for the day. It would be best for everyone, trust me.
Not sure if it is just me, but I try so hard to create these “experience” moments for my kids. I have this picture in my head of how it will all pan out, like a well- written 90’s sitcom…Family bonding, special moments, laughter, fun, a life lesson learnt and happy memories made. Maybe even a credit at the end of it all.
And it looked like I was right on track. Kids were up and ready, snacks sorted, we left on time, they were happy and laughing. We were even belting out tunes to the Disney playlist. We made a stop at John Dory’s for brekke. The kids ran off to play and draw pictures while I sat admiring the beautiful scenery of Scottburgh beachfront. They even ate all their breakfast and didn’t even ask for ice cream?? Sipping my tea, I thought to myself why don’t I do this more often?
I’ll tell you why, I’ll give you the exact reasons why. We are getting there.
What I didn’t realise that what I was experiencing was a false sense of safety and well-being. Like the first part of a Stephen King horror film/book. Setting the scene before all hell breaks lose.
We arrived at the camp site at 9.30am. It took a bit of time for me to dig around and come up with enough money in coins for the entrance fee. (all of my car guard coins, all of them. Do you know how hard it is to get a good stash of car guard coins? I was gutted. Bye bye all of my R2 coins, hello grumpy looking car guards. How will I reverse out shopping centre parkings now?) We were in. Arrived without drama or incident. I felt calm and peaceful and the setting was no different. Stunning autumn day in KZN. Blue skies, warm but not hot, no wind.
We watched the kids try fish in an old moored boat and then hunt for craps along the waters edge. I sound like an 18th century novelist now.
We decided to go to the pool for tea and cake. This is when the cracks started. We got push back from the crowd. Nope they wanted to stay and catch crabs but now there was only one net and 3 kids. I know I know, I should seen the warning signs. If you were watching this movie, the bright sparks would have pointed that out long ago. Trouble was brewing.
The first lot of tears made their appearance. After a lot of coaxing and pleading, a snack break, a juice break, a toilet break for Aiden and Tyler ( not Ava, she didn’t need to wee) we finally made it to the pool. I get all settled as the boys dive right in. I had just sat down when Ava says she needs the toilet. We just came from the loos! FFS. Ok darling let’s go. When we got back Heidi quietly mentions that Aiden is causing commotion with the OAP’s who are trying to enjoy tea time. He’s found the water jet in the pool and is using his body to block it and cause a huge fountain of water to spray all over the silver-haired-tea-sippers. FFS
And so it begins…
“Aiden!!! Stop it. Stop that right now!!” X 10
Ava is now whining that I have to watch her. And no, not from the comfort of my chair while I catch up with my family. Oh no, I have to go to the stairs of the pool and watch her from like 2 steps away. Queue the whining and the clinging.
We never hung around our parents all the time like this did we? We just got on and played. With sticks or in traffic. We got that whole out of sight, children should be seen and not heard, don’t sit here counting teeth stuff. The good ol days.
I won’t bore you with the details here is a summary ;
He won’t let me play on the trampoline.
Boys won’t give me a turn.
No one wants to play on trampoline with me.
She said I’m a baby.
He said I’m a baby.
She pushed me.
He shoved me.
(Sound of a a smack)
(Sound of tears and fake crying)
…. and back to the camp site.
More snacks and juice.
Fighting over the net and the bucket.
More fighting over the net and bucket.
Let’s all go to the beach!!
I did not drive over 60min to only see the camp site pool. I wanted a day at the beach with the kids, and dammit hell they were going to get this experience.
Easier said than done.It was like herding cats. Changing and finding towels and more snack breaks and juice breaks. We finally start the trek on foot. It wasn’t that far. Out the camp site and across the railway line. But in reality it felt like the plot of the Neverending Story. There we were, three adults, three kids.
We got this.
As we approached the toilets, Heidi needed to go quick. Queue the orchestra with that typical “something is about to happen” background music. Now Justin and I cannot say for sure just how long she was in there for, it couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes. Rookie error. She should have known better to take a toilet break then. What was she thinking? In that 5minutes, this happened;
Someone was nagging for ice cream. Aiden and Tyler had an epic all out fight about the fishing net. Ava wanted uppies (to be picked up and carried all the time) and I refused. Ava was crying. The fishing net was confiscated. Someone was nagging for ice cream. Aiden has a meltdown and refused to go to the beach. Tyler ran away. Ava was crying. Justin went looking for Tyler. Aiden went off and hid in a bush. Ava went after Justin and was crying. Someone asked for ice cream. Then there was silence.
Heidi came out to find just me wait my for her. Just to put you in the picture. We could still see our camp site it wasn’t that far yet. Everyone was gone and or crying. At this point I’m pretty sure the tears were mine.
We pressed on regardless. Pushing through the tears and nagging and drop lips.
Let’s all go to the beach.
We eventually approached the little camp shop near the entrance. (Again to put some perspective to this it was like 100 metres further on) Heidi suggested ice creams might help smooth things over. Yay! The kids chose an ice cream each and in the corner of the shop I spotted 2, yes 2 fishing nets. I quickly grab them and the ice cream, grateful that Heidi was clever enough to bring some cash with her. Now Aiden spots the other ice cream fridge with the “triple-the-price” magnum ice creams. He dives right in. It’s not our money and we have to get fishing nets too so I say no way Jose. Not happening. We get the cheap ice cream and head out but not before some stellar acting from Aiden. Queue meltdown. It was so bad that the others went off ahead while I tried to deal with a boy who first screamed and cried that he wanted to go to the beach and have an ice cream to now screaming and crying that he doesn’t want to eat ice cream on the beach.
I don’t want to go to the beach.
I don’t want to eat ice cream.
Why is everyone else at the beach and not me?
I want to eat my ice cream but not on the beach.
My ice cream is melting.
My hands are sticky.
I hate this ice cream. Why couldn’t I get the other ice cream?
My feet are sore.
The sand is hurting my feet.
My ice cream is melting.
I want to eat my ice cream on the beach.
Why is everyone else eating their ice cream on the beach and not me?
(I quietly whisper to myself because you fucking yelled at me in front of the whole shop and half the campers that you didn’t want to eat your ice cream on the beach. I mean what 7 year old doesn’t want an ice cream on the beach? It’s the classic movie manic moment?? Seriously. I’m not trying to get him to eat broccoli at the dinner table.
I breathed and breathed and spoke in a soft calm slow tone, and breathed and thought why was the car at the camp site and not here by the entrance. I could have just piled the kids in and effed off.
We finally made it to the effing bloody beach. Hint- tears and melted ice cream don’t mix well with sand.
By this time I think Justin had counted my threats to go home at 17 already.
There were fights over sticks and nets (yes still) some more tears but eventually … eventually …we all settled down. Ava collected shells with Heidi. I spent ages watching Aiden throw driftwood into the waves and have it come back and hit him in the legs. Oops. More tears. But things were good for a while. The boys figured out what to do with the waves and we all relaxed for a while.
I think when you stop trying so hard to create the perfect experience of how you think it should be and just let it be, then it happens. Perhaps not in the way you thought, but in a different way.
We spent a good few hours on that beach. The kids had fun. Later we went canoeing and chilled. Aiden even cried that he wanted to sleep over. Both kids passed out on the drive home. Not before I pulled over three times before we even got to a tar road let alone the N2. Ava said “Mom if you have to pull over on the side of the road and we are being naughty, then you going to smack us with a takkie hey?) Aaahhhh good times. The kids fell asleep as we got on the freeway. Sign of a day well spent in the outdoors (or they were tired from all the crying). Either way, they slept.
Even though it didn’t quite go how I had hoped, in our own way we did get to experience family bonding, special moments, laughter, fun, and I learnt a life lesson that day. Leave your expectations at home. Let the day unfold memories will be created. Good and not so good. Don’t try and manipulate the day into fitting into your unrealistic expectations of what a good experience should be. And do not under any circumstances go to the loo while enroute with kids to the beach.
A day at the Beach, Perfectly Sorted.