Excuse my absence. I've been working on one of my long, epic posts on A Controversial Topic, complete with thoughtful weighing up of pros and cons, detailed references to the research, and careful explanation of exactly why the people I disagree with are talking utter bollocks, which, as usual, will be posted only several months later when everyone has stopped caring and moved onto whatever the next issue du jour is. Because I could do with a break from that and my mother has been
nagging me to insisting that I should get something up, I shall write about something more light-hearted for now.
This week, by an unusual stroke of luck, the one warm, sunny, rain-free day in a while happened to be a Tuesday, which is my day off. So we piled into the car and drove off to the nearest seaside town. Since I've always felt that the experience of getting coated in sand is a possibly overrated one, we were unsure at the point of setting off whether we would actually go to the beach or simply spend the day roaming around the pier/shops/arcades, but when I mentioned the possibility of visiting the beach to Jamie he latched onto it with a determination I hadn't quite expected, and the aforementioned planned wanders were accompanied by a persistent background chanting of "Beach! Beach! Beach!" Since his previous experience with the beach was limited to a few passing encounters last summer, none of them going as far as any actual playing on the beach, we were quite surprised that he was so keen on the idea. That picture in the Peter and Jane series obviously made more of an impact on him than we'd realised.
Anyway, it would obviously have been a shame to allow aversion to a bit of sandiness to squelch that much enthusiasm, so we bought a bucket-and-spade kit, headed down to the sand, and introduced Jamie to sandcastle building. Jamie introduced himself to sandcastle smushing. We played for a while and Barry took Jamie for a walk up the nearby sand dune, which impressed him greatly. "Climbed an enormous hill," he told Barry. He was so pleased by the enormous hill that I took him back for another walk up it while Barry rested, although we didn't get very far - he kept slipping and falling down and getting thoroughly coated with sand, and this is an even more interesting experience to a two-and-a-half-year-old than an enormous hill. "What have you got on your hands, Jamie?" he enquired gleefully of himself, holding them up for inspection with a wicked grin.
So the beach was a huge success. (Even I enjoyed it, once I got into the swing of things. The sand actually brushed off pretty easily.) We decided to leave Jamie's introduction to the sea for another day, but Jamie felt differently about this and headed off towards it as we were trying to leave. Barry kept an eye on him, expecting that he'd simply turn round and come back when he realised his parents weren't following, but in fact Jamie continued to toddle inexorably towards the water's edge and Barry had to run after him and retrieve him. Which made me extremely proud. We have raised a child secure enough to go off exploring without a backward glance, utterly confident that his parents will always be there and he has no need to hang around them. We will, of course, have to keep a close eye on the practical results of this for the next several years, but it's still good to know.