My kids are super pissed at me right now. I wouldn't let them come to the beach for the weekend with thier father and I. Just the fact that I made that statement blows my mind. Sounds like a real first world problem, right? I also have a kid who, "Isn't interested in going to college". This morning I had a revelation about "millennials". It baked my noodle - and pretty well done too.
The Preacher and I needed to get away- alone and together. There are lots of reasons (Christmas shopping for our kids, mental health vacay, separation from our jobs -so that we can't be reached or called in to help, and so we can have hot monkey sex without the teenagers hearing us. Important stuff, ya'll.) We don't feel we need to give our daughters excuses, so I said- "No, I'd planned on you coming along but I've changed my mind". When that set off the alarms and a poutfest I decided I must've failed as a parent.
How spoiled do these kids have to be to think that they have the "right" to go to the beach? Just because we CAN go they believe we all MUST go! Well, as it turns out, they're not spoiled, just disappointed. And pretty smart.
My knee jerk reaction is to be mad at them for being mad at me. That's not fair; everybody gets to be mad.
If everybody doesn't get to be mad then nobody gets to be. In families where nobody gets to be mad feelings aren't felt and dysfunction is forced to flourish. In those where only SOME of the members get to be mad, resentment is built, respect is impossible, and rebellion is certain and severe.
So, surfer girls DEFINITELY get to be disappointed that they didn't get to come to the beach. Plans change and, especially for a young adult who had taken a day off work, a change in plans can be super disappointing. Frustrating. Ok, maddening. (When your Momma is unable to keep up with her own plans, constantly changes plans/shifts gears/has her own conflicts, and melts down like a toddler on occasion- frustration can be part of life.)
There's another element to the beach thing.
The ocean is a source of healing. If you don't believe that, you've never been.
When I was 19, I hadn't. At the cusp of adulthood I had been taking care of myself for more than a decade. I'd taken care of my alcoholic mother for much of her life too. I had set out on my own and was living a life I abhor to think that my daughters might choose. I'd had a nearly-live-in-arrangement with one boy for almost five years at that point and was headed from one man's arms to another at the time. My new man had a picture perfect family and a pickup truck. My 19th summer I got in that truck with him and headed for the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.
Having grown up in the midwest I hadn't ever been and had no idea what I was missing. I had suffered from Major Depression Disorder for several years but was the only teenager I'd known of to have such a diagnosis back in those days. (It was severe enough that it had already almost cost my life and had required months of hospitalization.)
The first time in the water I made he and his friends laugh by saying, "It really does taste like SALT!!" They couldn't understand my surprise, but anyone who hasn't tasted the ocean prior to adulthood will understand the intense salty saltiness cannot be duplicated with table salt. It's it's own thing; warming and comforting and slightly disgusting at the same time. Even my surfer girl doesn't understand my naivete of ocean salinity- she and her sister have tasted it from their very first summers.
So, all those years ago, during my summer of love I headed to the beach with Not-yet-preacher in a pickup truck and fell madly in love... twice.
We spent the week in a big rented house with his friends. (Will I let my girls go if invited? Oh HELLS no! Judge me for a double standard if you like. I am NOT letting my babies do what I done.)
He was a perfect gentleman, giving me a double bed in a room alone every night while he slept on the couch. Being a depressed and over medicated on antidepressant kind of girl, I was in that bed alone at least 8 hours per night with an occasional nap during the day. I was egocentric enough at that time not to realize how his friends tormented him for bringing a girl on full scholarship with no expectation of booty. A part of me did realize what an exceedingly good person he was, even then. I was completely safe in the care of a man for the first time in my life since my parents had divorced. (Age 3)
There was another new experience during that trip. I knew the salt water would heal cuts and sores. I'd already worked in college in a major hospital with a level I Trauma Center and specialists from all over the world; one had been a Marine Biologist who'd shown me "marine minded medicine" that he'd learned while working in a coastal area. There are tips and tricks related to marine injuries and treatments of which the rest of us Landlubber medical staff were unawares. That was the sum total of cool information about the ocean I'd been exposed to. While it was impressive and fascinating, it wasn't experiential. Actually seeing the ocean water heal up a cut AMAZED me. Like, stupid about it, showing everyone what it had done in just a day or two. Just imagine young adults who just want to party for a week listening to the "smart girl from podunk talk about salt water like it was "maaaagic". Sure, good luck in medical school, blondie.
But it was much more than that. The salt water seemed somehow to soothe something in me tht I didn't even know needed soothing. It might have been the waves or the sunshine or the comfort of the tides, whose rhythm I could never quite calculate. Maybe it was the waves, whose sets I couldn't predict no matter how many times I've counted them. Catching and riding waves still escapes me but letting them crash over me seems to work just fine to fix what's broken inside.
I come from a farming family. We are generations of working the earth and the animals and most of us have never seen the ocean. My kids have never worked the earth and wouldn't know a bull from a dairy cow. Trying to explain the seasons or the birthing of a calf or the misery of detasseling corn is a waste of the breath I already can't hold long enough to wait for good sets. Some things have to be felt; experienced.
The ocean; they know.
They know the waves and the tides, marine life and sand in their sanwiches. They are mermaids who recognize the sweep of the wave hitting shore with it's bubbling hiss that fades to a fizzle. They can feel the waves even surf them. They have something I never had -not because they're spoiled millennials but because we gave them an awesome thing- beach memories. That doesn't mean they get a trip to the shore every time they long for fresh seafood but it doesn't either mean they're entitled or spoiled. It means they're blessed- lucky, fortunate, and tan more of the year than not.