6 April 2021
I played the role of a wildlife investigator today, examining from a safe distance the interactions amongst family groupings.
Gotta confess that I did quite frequently put on a very bad David Attenborough accent while working out what was happening.
The scene is an idyllic beach setting. There is no better beach in the world than Turquoise Bay – don’t bother researching this, just take my word for it. Around one side of the beach is a perfect coral reef right at the waters edge, with a gentle current that drifts you across the coral and all the pretty fish and turtles.
The bay itself is a enclosed by a very wide, curved, perfect sandy beach, and there are random coral outcrops in the shallow sandy water filled with large and small fish swimming around your legs. No waves, just gentle perfect snorkelling and swimming territory, and the beach heavenly for sitting down and soaking in the view.
If you were marooned on a desert island that looks like this, you wouldn’t want to be rescued.
Should your attention begin to wander, after spending a couple of hours spotting aquatic wildlife, you can of course turn your attention to the human wildlife. Specifically the human wildlife who were travelling with their young.
It was this fascinating subset of humanity on whom I spent a good portion of the morning channelling my inner Attenborough.
The ones travelling with infants were observed frantically trying to erect whatever shade structures that had been purchased promising to protect their precious cargo. The parents then took turns to keep the elements away from their little ones, while the other took the opportunity to commune in and amongst the elements on offer. A quickly timed (and well documented photographically) dipping of the feet of the infant into the piscatorially affluent waters, would be kept for later years as a monument to their moment in the sun.
And then there were the families with small children. Depending on the age of the children, there would either be one adult supervising the child who was decked out in their rash shirted, zinc creamed and plastic bucket wielding best. Older children who were proficient enough swimmers had, in addition to their zinc cream and rash shirts, a nifty snorkel and mask set. Often both parents, or an older sibling possibly, would be tasked with swimming with this age child, to make sure they didn’t over exert themselves chasing the fish.
It was lovely to watch all these people learning how to enjoy this little piece of paradise as a family unit.
Of course, perfection is an objective concept when the family grouping includes that most confusing subset in the world of family dynamics – the teenager.
Unless the teenager is a budding marine scientist, or a fish enthusiast, or just an easy-going sort of human, there are always going to be difficulties.
When it comes to offspring, adult humans always need to be aware of, and well planned for, the needs of their young’uns in matters of food and entertainment.
When the offspring are young, nutritious food and drink needs to be strategically supplemented with something designated as a ‘treat’. The clever adult human will psychologically manage their offspring to the extent that an ice cube in their water can be determined as a treat. Likewise with carrot sticks and sultanas.
Younger children can be managed with the promise of an ice cream at the end of a day at the beach.
It’s my experience that providing food for a teenage human is a mine-field of current trends and eating styles. Whatever the adult human will have provided for their teenage offspring to eat, will not be the correct option. Any treats available for bribing purposes will be the only thing the teenager can eat, and the thought of an ice cream will produce a demand that one be conjured immediately.
And then there’s the dreaded word that inevitably creeps into the conversation with any teenage human…..boredom.
The perfectly idyllic beach setting with accompanying snorkelling, swimming and beach walking options can be heavenly for an adult human. With enough shade, water and snacks, an adult human could spend all day just absorbing the peace.
Unfortunately, your average teenage human can only take so much of its parents looking peaceful. They can be observed verbally extracting whatever peace their parents had managed to obtain, with demands to do something different, anything different. Now. No I mean it, right now!
As an adult human whose offspring have been released into the wild and can now enjoy idyllic beach visits with only the company of another adult human, I spent a lot of time today pondering the following thought…
At what age do you change from protecting your children from drowning, to sending them out into deeper waters?