Sunday, 3 August 2014

busy busy at the beach

From a toddler parent perspective there are few environments where there is next to nothing to break; the beach is one of them. That also means there are few 'no's to enforce. Both parents and toddlers get a break from sentences like 'Hands off! Fingers in the sockets is really really dangerous!' There is some funky electrics on this town. Unnervingly funky. Toddler height.

As you might have guessed we are on holiday. Digger, daddy and me.

An acerbic and funny friend of ours once proclaimed that holiday after you become a parent is just going somewhere else with a child, somewhere far less convenient than home. I know what he means. But I gotta say this does feel like holiday, and has flashes of pre-Digger holidays. My younger sister popped by for a few days. The resulting ratio of 3:1 adult to child felt positively luxurious, and added to the sense of calm. Digger got lots of 1:1, while the grown ups took turn to catch up, or just be.

We are all relaxing.

I'm delighted that Digger seems love picking out stones and shells as much as I did as a child, and still do. He can stop dead in his track, bend down to pick something up, study it closely, and pocket it - if he is wearing pockets that is.

I'd forgotten how much there is to do on the beach. things to study, things to watch, things to touch. Waves to chase; splashing, swimming, and my favourite today: 'Digger floating!'. Where he got that from I do not know, but it certainly an essential life skill.

The beach is also excellent for messy play. Digger, as most people, is not great with sand sticking to him. So once his wet hands got sand all over, he ran down to the shoreline to wash them, and then ran back up to our base to undertake some more sand construction ('Digger building house!'), but.. oups - sandy hands again - oh bum, have to run back to shore line, wash wash, then run up again, and more construction, oh no... sandy hands again - how did that happen?!... He must have run back and forth 20-30 times, until finally he collapsed in his buggy, taking an early but very sound midday nap. When he woke, he had cracked it: take bucket, fill it with water to wash hands when need to, rest of the time: wipe sand off. He seems to be learning even in his sleep.

Digger is experimenting big time. The beach is one big science lab! With no rules. Albert Einstein supposedly said that imagination is the highest form of research. Along those lines I'd venture that play is the highest form of experimentation, since there are no rules. Only things to be learned. Much of it about basic physics. Volumes, weights, gravity and so on. Children's absorbed play is endlessly fascinating, and endlessly fascinating just to watch. This is such all-absorbing stuff for Digger, that I wonder how do I take all this, or just this lesson, home? What is it that I have learned? Partly that Digger has grown so much, that while he is enjoying playing with us adults, he is beginning to really enjoy his own free company. He chatters away while playing. Today he even looked up and said: 'Digger happy!' and smiled. I can actually read my own book while on the beach with him. Yes, he is that absorbed. I need to peer over the edge of it ever so often, but still... Yes. This beach holiday has offered us all important lessons. Not just another holiday to be filed with photos under holiday 2014.

There are 'no's on the beach, we have come to realise. Rules we follow ourselves, second nature, but that does need pointing out to a toddler. Like no kicking of sand; no shaking out towels next to fellow sun worshippers; no using the parasol lower bit as a sword - especially not near other people; no dumping all the biscuits on the sand (though he would have come to that same conclusion very quickly without my help) and definitely no poo-ing on the beach.

The ocean, or indeed any water, is also such a great place for games that puts the toddler in the charge (well on the surface), the parent being the clumpy underdog. Like being knocked sideways by a beach ball. Repeatedly. Our son loves that. All those games where we big ones really let go. And get down to the messy yet simple business of being silly and in the moment. And Digger can bask in our undivided attention.

On the whole the beach is bliss for a toddler. And I love playing here with him too.

But how are we ever going to get him back on UK time? He's only just gone down, at 10.30pm.
On the up it will be a lovely 8am lie in tomorrow morning.

I am quickly coming to think that relax is a very key word in parenting.

1 comment:

the boy's behaviour said...

The beach is my most favourite place in the world.
We are lucky to live close to the coast, and go most weeks. My kids adore it - the freedom, the sounds, it's a sensory experience.
And we go all year round as it's become such a comforting, safe, open space.

Thanks for sharing your post on #SummerSandpit