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“Dirty. Dirty. Scared.” screamed my older daughter incoherently, when I first took her to the beach. I was so puzzled. What was she talking about? Juhu beach was so much cleaner, than when I was a kid. What could she possibly be so upset by? But she insisted on being carried and refused to stand on the sand. Giving up on the beach experience, we took her out for ice cream and she returned home happy.
That evening when I took her out to play in the society, I finally realized what her problem was. Our apartment has marble flooring and the compound of our housing society is paved with pink paver blocks. Even the ground in the childrens paly area is made of some hard foam material. The society is regularly swept and kept clean. She has gone to the park in her grandma's housing society, but manicured grass covers the muddy ground. The poor girl has hardly ever seen mud or dirt in her life. No wonder she flipped when she saw so much sand!
I felt sad. I remembered how much I enjoyed going to the beach when I was a girl. I still love sitting on the sand and making sand castles.
Later that year we took her to Mussoorie, and she loves walking, but she refused to walk on any of our treks, because of the muddy trails. Since then we regularly take her on short vacations to hill stations, forested areas and beaches. My husband and I also love to get away to gorgeous nature. A few years of these kinds of holidays have really helped the situation.
Yesterday I took her to the beach early in the morning. We are getting her used to getting up early for her new school schedule, and I have been trying various methods. One of them, is to take her on an exciting outing early in the morning. So what better place to go than the beach? Armed with lots of toys to aid in making sand castles we arrived at the beach. My daughter, now very comfortable with the sand kicked off her slippers as soon as we reached the beach and ran barefoot on the sand to find herself a comfy spot, to make sand castles.
But guess what? Once she was settled I tried to put her little sister down next to her and the little one's reaction was “Mama, dirty, dirty”. De ja vu. My kids seem to react to beaches and muddy grounds like they were on an alien planet. This time I was more persistent. I tried to entice the younger one with toys, but she just stood there saying “Dirty, dirty” and looking miserable. Finally I spread a towel for her to sit on, and that was acceptable to her. She saw how much fun her older sister was having and reluctantly joined in. By now my older one had made several interesting sand structures using her various toys as moulds.
Slowly the little one got engrossed in playing with the sand and we all played together. We made mountains, subways, tunnels, cakes and towers of sand. We had a good hour of fun getting our hands dirty and thoroughly enjoying it. Then we walked over to the sea.
On earlier visits my older one used to be really scared of the water, but in the last year we have been taking her to a pool a lot. So this time she was eager to get in to the water. She splashed around in glee and was amazed at her own courage. Her litlte sister was tempted too when she saw the older one looking so happy in the water. We all splashed around in water, half a foot deep.
Yup,you guessed right, we are going to go to the beach atleast once a week this summer, so the older one can get skilled at building castles and the little one gets over her fear of the dirt. All that sea air and splashing around is so great for them too. They devour their breakfast hungrily in 15 minutes flat and that makes my day. It's a win win win!
The whole family (dada-dadi included) will be going on a vacation soon to a hill station for more exposure to mud and nature.
This summer lets leave our marble palaces and paved societies and smell the fresh air and #KhuljayeBachpan to some great outdoor fun and adventures.