Early Saturday morning I took my daughter, Kai, to the D’Feet Breast Cancer run at Moody Gardens. She had a great time and did the kids 1K, which was the first race she’d ever entered. Afterwards there was a kids’ party that had a whole lot of sponsorship tables with art projects for the kids. She and a couple of her friends from school were manically jumping from one table where they made stain glass windows to another for pet rocks, to yet a third where they made necklaces. It was a really wonderful event.
My wife was out of town and I really don’t know what to do when I don’t work on the weekends. Kai cooked up some scheme that I went along with. She invited a friend for a sleepover and then we invited a few of her friends and their parents to our place for beach and surf time.
It turned out to be a beautiful day. Kai and her friend Chloe, both 8, went with me to the store to get snacks, which they prepared as if they were top chefs in a fancy restaurant. The mob showed up and we set up umbrellas and chairs and boards and sand toys. I grabbed a 12 foot longboard and took 3 or 4 kids at a time out to chest deep water and pushed them into wave after wave. They squealed and laughed till I thought they’d bust a gut. They switched out and made sand castles, looked for shells, played with hermit crabs, and then came for another round of surfing. I got relieved by another couple of parents and went to hang out under the umbrellas.
Sitting under the umbrella I started to relax a bit. Some parents were chatting quietly and others were just sitting and watching the kids play together. The day was perfect and sunny and neither hot nor cool. And that’s when it hit me:
People do this all the time! And they do it because there’s not much better than sitting on the beach under an umbrella in a comfortable beach chair with friends. And I’ve been missing out. Since I’ve been 16 I’ve always worked on beach holiday weekends and pretty much every weekend that’s warm enough for the beach. I’m not complaining at all, it’s a fantastic job. But when there are 300,000 people on the island there is nothing relaxing about working the beach.
Spending that time made me realize why we have almost 6 million visitors a year. We live in a wonderful place. When they get tired of the beach there are so many great things to do between the strand, Moody Gardens, historical buildings, Schlitterbahn, nature tours, great bars, restaurants, and shopping and more. But mostly they come for the beach.
Sitting under that umbrella and listening to the kids playing, the waves rolling to shore, birds, breeze, and all the sounds that make up the stillness was a real reminder of why they come.