Saturday, February 16, 2019, turned out to be an incredibly wonderful, happy day. I spent the snowy winter afternoon on a warm and sunny beach in Kansas City. I hadn’t planned to go. I thought I would just stay in my room and work on my novel. But my plans were soon interrupted.
Around 4 pm, there was a knock on my door. I looked up to see my sister-in-law, Mary, standing in the doorway. Mary was babysitting her 4-year-old granddaughter, Samantha, for the afternoon. “Jamie, I’m sorry to bother you,” she said, “but I need to go to the grocery store. Samantha doesn’t want to go with me. She wants to stay here with you. Would you mind watching her while I’m gone?”
“Oh, that’s fine,” I answered as I quickly saved my work on the computer.
“I’ll be fast,” Mary said. “I’ll only be gone for about 15 minutes, I promise.”
“It’s okay, Mary,” I answered as I followed her down the hallway. “I’ll watch Samantha.”
And at that moment, Samantha ran over to me and grabbed my hand. As Mary walked out to the garage, Samantha dragged me into the family room. “We’re going to the beach, Jamie,” Samantha informed me.
I stood in the middle of the family room and looked around at the fireplace, the leather couch, and the red-and-black patterned carpet. “Okay,” I agreed, “we’re on the beach.” And suddenly, we were running around the house. “Okay, Samantha, we need beach towels, and a ball, and a pail, and…”
“And a surfboard!” Samantha squealed happily.
A surfboard?! And then I had an idea as I ran to the hall closet. I yanked open the door and pulled out a long piece of cardboard that I had seen in the closet a few days before. I held it up proudly. “We have a surf board!”
Samantha squealed excitedly as we gathered our beach items and ran back into the family room. We spread the towels over the carpet as we mapped out where the sand was located. We threw the “surfboard” onto another area of the carpet that we designated as the ocean. The kitchen served as our dressing room as we pretended to put on our swimsuits even though it was too cold to even think about taking off our sweaters. Once we were “dressed” in our swimsuits, we ran back out to the beach.
Samantha and I spent the next half hour surfing in our imagined ocean. We stood together on the piece of cardboard, held our arms straight out, and rocked back and forth as we pretended to surf the red-and-black carpet. We were actually pretty good until a large wave suddenly swept us off the board and into the ocean, where we had to rescue each other from imagined sharks. After out-swimming the sharks, we lay down on our beach towels and soaked up the warm sun.
Then after a quick beach snack of white powdered doughnuts, it was time to play volleyball. Samantha and I stood at opposite ends of the family room and batted a small, red-and-white ball back and forth. I was surprised that tiny Samantha was so coordinated. I think she hit the ball more times than I did. The whole beach experience was wonderful except when the dogs kept running onto the beach and interrupting our game. Samantha and I had to stop several times to chase the dogs off our beach and back into the living room.
Finally, after a long afternoon of “fun in the sun,” Samantha and I packed up our beach towels, buckets, and snacks and left the sand, the water, and the sun behind as we returned to the cold, the snow, and the ice of a Kansas winter afternoon. The day at the beach in the middle of February had truly done me some good. I was warm, happy, and relaxed…
Unless you are in good shape, never take a four-year-old to the beach on a winter day!