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Dolphins, Turtles and Sunscreen Tantrums: The New Way We Do the Beach

We are beach people. My husband and I love the beach. We love our Rio Grande Valley beach, South Padre Island. Before our son was born, beach weekends were lazy, crazy and so relaxing.

Our average beach day used looked something like this:

Breakfast, beach time, soaking in the ocean, toes in the sand, beer in hand, reading under an umbrella, pool time, clean up, dinner out, hit Tequila Sunset or Louie’s, and end the night at Coral Reef Lounge for karaoke. How we loved our karaoke nights. People would actually get up and dance when my husband sang country. And we had duets! Just thinking about it brings a big ol’ smile to my face.

Since summer 2016 started, we’ve been to South Padre Island three times— and not a karaoke night in sight. Of course, we see our old hangouts and reminisce about the fun times we had with friends. For now, though, the SPI of our childless days is gone, replaced with new sea and sand adventures.

Now, we do the beach with a three-year-old.

We have taken our son to South Padre every summer since he was 10-months-old. We are now discovering our beloved island as a family. Turns out, we totally have a beach kid. He loves everything about SPI. So we have different activities these days. Staying up late means staying up just late enough to catch the fireworks at 9:15. This year, we have seen rescue turtles for the first time, been on a dolphin watch, and flown a kite on the sand. It was all awesome! We never did these things back in the day.

However, along with the fun, new experiences as parents at the beach, we have had some new, not-so-fun experiences.

[Related: La Isla Bonita – Packing 101]

Beaching it with a toddler in tow:

  • Sunscreen, for instance, sets off a tantrum.  My threenager (that’s a thing now) decided he could  NOT allow me to slather sunscreen all over him.  There was actual screaming in our hotel room. My husband sarcastically remarked it must have sounded “like waves crashing, definitely like waves crashing.” After like 20 minutes of arguing and threats of going home, I won the sunscreen battle. I lost my enthusiasm for hitting the beach after that, but we went anyway. He has worn sunscreen a bazillion times. No idea why THIS time was a no-go.
  • Then there is the Gulf Coast “flesh-eating bacteria” discussion happening. Can we just agree to never say these words again? Seriously, as a paranoid, slight hypochondriac, this was the quickest way to make me enjoy my beach trips a little less. I never used to worry about these things! As a parent, I take precautions. We wore waterproof band aids and I packed peroxide in my beach bag. You know, to be proactive. This nonsense made me really miss my carefree beach trips. Let me assure you there have been NO REPORTED CASES of flesh-eating bacteria at South Padre Island.
  • These days, there’s no quiet lounging by the ocean. Our beach kid wants to be out in the sun and in over his head in waves the whole time. And, well, that’s not relaxing at all. So much for sipping a drink under an umbrella and dozing off.
  • Even pool time can turn in to chaos. On our last trip, our kiddo found some friends, and soon squirting with water guns in the pool turned into playful shoving outside of the pool, followed by falling. Not. relaxing. at. all.

[Related: A Family Guide to Visiting the RGV with Kids]

Our beach trips are way different now.  Despite the occasional hiccups with a kid, we will continue to go to SPI because we love the ocean air, jumping the waves, the sand in our toes, pool time and watching our little one light up when he is enjoying the beach and all the fun that comes with it.

That’s what parents do, right? We suck up all the inconvenience for that moment when our kids are smiling ear to ear. Let’s face it, our whole lives are different since he was born. The beach trips are just a casualty. We are seeing our favorite spot through our baby’s eyes and that makes it all worthwhile. We are beach people. We are a beach family.

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And to our fans at Coral Reef Lounge (when we reminisce, we include fans), Tony and Lisa will be back one day! In the meantime, we’ll be practicing our “Islands in the Stream.”


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