True confession time.
I do not particularly like the beach.
That may not seem like such a shocking admission to you, but I live about five minutes from the Ionian Sea and the concept of not wanting to spend every summer day “al mare” (at the sea) is just about inconceivable to many (though not all) people around here.
In my defense, I grew up far, far from any large body of water and my family didn’t do beach vacations, so it just wasn’t something I was ever interested in.
And I continue to not be interested in it, not even with it five minutes away.
Don’t get me wrong: I like walks on the beach (especially early morning), love the smell of sea air, and enjoy cooling off/swimming in the sea, but sitting there for hours, sweating and squinting and getting sand all up in places that even my obstetrician hasn’t seen?
I can hardly think of anything more torturous.
Oh, plus I have super pale skin that does not like the sun. Or the sun doesn’t like it. Take your pick.
On the other hand, many southern Italians (like P) have that Mediterranean skin that allows them to spend sun-up to sundown on the beach (except to go home for lunch and a nap!) and emerge from August fifty shades of brown, from copper to raw umber. My Italian-American grandmother was like that. One gene I obviously didn’t inherit.
And so every May, my annual dance with the locals regarding the sea begins—more specifically, about the (absence of) color of my skin. I’ve been here for over a decade, and I am still inevitably asked approximately once a week from May through September why I am so pale.
Over the years, I’ve realized that if I say I prefer the mountains to the sea (which is true), it seems to make my avoidance of the beach somewhat OK. Kind of. It doesn’t, however, stop the repeated, yearly, burning question.
And so, with this experience at my back, I probably should have known that by procreating, I was simply upping the ante.
SCENE: The corso (main street in town). A couple weeks ago. M in her Ergo carrier, little chubber legs hanging out the sides. Someone I barely know approaches from the other direction and grabs and lightly shakes one of M’s legs.
SIBK: “Awwww, what a cute little meatball!”
M: *kicks legs wildly, smiles widely, looks away and back again to SIBK*
Me: *smiles politely* “Thank you.”
SIBK, to M: “Soon Mommy will take you to the beach! You’re so pale…a little mozzarella!”
Me: *split second of stunned silence* “Yes, just like her mommy!”
Now, first of all, who else is hungry? Meatballs and mozzarella mmmmm….
“Little meatball” in Italian is “polpettina,” which is cute. And we all know M is fattening up, and that’s a good thing. Whatevs. I’m cool with that.
But seriously, the mozzarella business about the kid has started at seven months old?
This exchange was followed by several warnings I received in subsequent days while walking with M in her stroller about how the sun was in her face—with the stroller’s sun shade over her and with her wearing a sun hat, which she *always* has on when in the sun.
Which all leads to my village-approved goal for this summer!
Get M a tan while keeping her face out of the sun.
It’s good to have goals.
Joking aside, even though I’m not a beach-lover, I will take M al mare now and again; I wouldn’t want her to miss out on something she might enjoy just because her mom (and dad, incidentally) don’t particularly like it.
And just because articles like “Essentials for Taking Your Baby Beachside” give me agita.
She even already has two swimsuits, including the one pictured above (thanks, Nana!), so we know she’ll be stylin’!
She will, however, also be wearing plenty of high SPF sunscreen (as she has been since her little bare arms started appearing earlier this year) and spending lots of time in the shade. And probably still be a little mozzarella (ahem, polpettina) like her mommy.
And on that note, another true confession.
If it’s wrong to hope M doesn’t enjoy the beach, Neptune knows . . . I don’t wanna be right.