I pulled out another sunscreen wipe and tackled the boy.
He has my fair skin, and the sun in August is intense.
I rubbed the wipe over his arms and legs and on his face, everywhere that might be exposed despite his swim shorts, sun shirt, water shoes and the, according to my husband, “absurd” hat that would only be appropriate in the Sahara desert.
Today was our first day at the beach of our annual family vacation. The toddler was 13 months old, and it had been the better part of a year since we were at the beach. We were unsure how he would feel about walking and playing in the sand.
But we were finally ready to find out.
I picked up the toddler, my tote bag, a bottle of water, a sippy cup, some snacks and our sun hats and walked down the long, wooden walkway to the beach. My husband had already made this trek, negotiating a beach tent, the towels, sand toys and a ball. He was waiting for us.
The boy bounced and pointed, shrieking with excitement, as soon as he realized where we were going. He repeatedly made the American Sign Language sign for “ocean,” unable to contain his enthusiasm.
Once we were clear of the dunes and met by his father, I set the toddler down in the sand.
He looked at it, bending down to dig his fingers into it. He discovered the grains, the stickiness, the warmth where it was exposed to the sun, and the coolness where it was buried.
And then he was off, sprinting, as fast as a toddler can sprint, toward the water, again and again.
I spent most of the day, sitting or standing in the shadow of the beach tent, which I’m not sure we ever convinced the toddler to enter. He played with his shovel and pail, while his dad helped him fetch water from the ocean. He used his plastic sifter, pouring the sand on his body and his head. He sat down and drove his truck. He smiled at the neighboring children and followed them. And he chased every sea gull and sandpiper that ventured within 20 feet of us.
When it was time for his afternoon nap, I carried him up the steps and back to our rental house. We rinsed him at the outside shower, trying in vain to get all the sand, so much sand, off the wiggling little boy. We finally gave up and stripped his clothes off.
And then I carried that tired boy inside.
After he was asleep, I sat on an Adirondack chair on the porch. I was exhausted in that way that only sun and surf and a toddler can tire you.
Over the rise of the dune, I watched the ocean, rhythmically cresting and cleansing the sand. From a distance, I could hear the laughter of the children still playing on the beach and the thunder of the surf. I breathed in, smelling the salt water and the charcoal wafting towards me from the neighboring houses.
And I felt a wave of peace and happiness wash over me.
This post was prepared in response to a RemembeRED prompt for The Red Dress Club. The prompt asked the writer to prepare a post about a memory involving sand.