Something about the summer brings out the spontaneity in me. When I was in my twenties, it was nothing for me to take the train to New York and see an off-Broadway show on a whim. I’d wake up on a Saturday and decide to drive to visit friends in Baltimore or D.C. for no reason at all. Sometimes, I’d spend the entire day at the movie theater, watching movie after movie until nighttime. That didn’t change after I had Ayva. Of course, my funds were more limited, but I’d still find interesting things to do around time. Once, when Ayva was 2, she and I took the bus to Atlantic City and stayed in a hotel on the beach for an impromptu vacation. We rode a bike on the boardwalk early in the morning, ate ice cream in the sand, and had an outrageously amazing time.
Now that Ayva is older and we have Terrence, spontaneous summer days are even more fun. This weekend, after battling the crowd at the Old Navy $1 flip flop sale, we headed out to Crown Memorial Beach in Alameda to fly a kite (#5 on my list of free things to do in the Bay Area). It was a spur of the moment decision that was evident when we got to the beach without towels, drinking water, or any other typical “beach outing” supplies. It didn’t matter, though. Ayva’s excitement was really the only thing we really needed. We took off our shoes* to walk on the warm sand, and Ayva and I held up our dresses as we walked nearly up to our knees in the water. As Ayva and Terrence ran up and down the beach flying her Cinderella kite, I sat on the sand watching them and wanting and needing nothing more than everything I had right then in that moment.
For some families, an excursion like the one we had might require 12 woven beach bags stuffed with towels, books for the kids, magazines for the adults, sunscreen, sunblock, lotion, sand toys, water toys, beach towel toys, and the kitchen sink. I get it. People like to be comfortable. It’s hard to be spontaneous when you have so much stuff to pack, though. Besides, doesn’t all of that stuff just get in the way sometimes? I mean, if your kids don’t have sand toys, what will happen? If they’re like my clever 4-year old (and most likely they are), they’ll adapt, picking up a shell to use as a shovel and make a hole to use as a makeshift bucket. If they don’t have their water toys, maybe they’ll spend more time investigating along the shore, inquiring about seaweed or wondering how the water knows not to come all the way up on the beach. If they get wet and there isn’t a towel readily available, it’ll teach them not to sweat the small stuff. They might assure you, as Ayva assured us, that there’s no need to worry because the sun will dry them off.
There are still lots of summer days left for you to practice being spontaneous. Leave some of the stuff, and just go. And I’m not talking about the physical stuff, either. Leave the stress of planning and the scheduling and do something fun, just for the heck of it. But, if you go to the beach, do bring a towel. That was a little bit crazy…even for me!
When is the last time you did something fun on a whim?
(*Ayva and Terrence at least had the good sense to wear flip flops. I, of course, hate them. Although, I would wear them at the beach. So why didn’t I wear them to this beach? Who knows. Weirdo. )