E-beach Vacation by Margaret Hart
Whether it’s Seals & Croft’s “Summer Breeze,” or Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” when I hear some of my favorite songs of the season, I am transported to a tranquil place. A warm beach at the ocean, where the sun is shining, there’s a cool breeze, and the tide is lapping slowly and rhythmically at my feet.
Relax and close your eyes. Can you envision this peaceful scenario? Breathe. Exhale. Now open your eyes. Add to this image screaming children, especially young ones with bad behavior throwing tantrums. Include the school-aged, well-behaved children who are just complaining about being hungry, hot, tired, or bored, and you have a family vacation at the beach!
Add an iPad, a couple of iPod’s, a DS, and toss in mom’s iPhone, and the dispositions sweeten. Mea culpa: I am among the mom’s whose child complains of boredom, and has his DS with him at the pool and at restaurants, and wants to take it to the beach. I try to assuage my technology guilt by observing at least a dozen other families whose kid’s’ noses are pointed at something electronic in between dips in the pool and bites of their hot dogs. All the parents have their e-readers and their smart phones with them 24/7, so why can’t he have his DS? I don’t have a good answer.
While I would love for our family beach vacation to be technology-free, it is unrealistic. So we try to make E-rules:
1. The DS can always come in the car.
2. The DS can be brought to restaurants, along with the iPad, and be used while we are waiting for food (volume lowered).
3. The DS can come to the pool and be used only at the lounge chair after we’ve gone for a swim.
4. The DS can not come to the beach because of the sand. “But why? You have your phone with you,” he says.
True. Look around the beach. How many people within a three-umbrella radius are looking at their smart phones? Just about everyone, except for some of the grandparents, who probably don’t have one! So I amend the rules with a restriction (sort of):
4a. The DS can come to the beach, but can only be used with dry hands while seated in the beach chair.
C’mon. This is ridiculous, I tell myself. That’s a rule so mom can blame the child if the DS gets ruined by salt water and sand. So the E-rules for the beach vacation are evolving. And I’m going to lift the rules for today because we’re busy. We’ve got the Black Pearl Pirate Excursion at Sea followed by dinner. After dinner, miniature golf, carnival and the arcade—can’t get away from the technology!