24 September 2011

Crustacean: 1 - Jessie: nil.

On the final morning of our time at the Sunshine Coast, Jessie begged me to have one more swim at the beach.  We had bought a Skim Disk the day before and she didn't want to leave without testing it out.  Although the final morning of a beach holiday is a tricky time to get wet and sandy, I decided to take her and Woody for one last visit to the beach before we packed and went home.

Things went wrong before we'd even decided where to set our towels and bags.  We were walking over the sand towards the flagged area when Jessie saw an interesting shell.  She had been collecting shells all week and carrying them around, worrying when she couldn't find her collections and getting cross when her brothers touched them.  So when she saw that she had stepped on a very large smooth shell half-buried in the sand, she bent to pick it up.

It bit her.

On the thumb.

Reportedly quite hard.

The 4-inch-wide crab, for that is what it was, grabbed her tiny thumb in its pincers, gave her a cautionary nip, and scuttled off across the sand trying to find somewhere to hide.

Jessie lost her mind.


Her eyes were dilated wide with fear and her little heart was pounding beneath her swimming shirt as she let out a series of panicked screams and started an odd skipping dance across the sand, trying to make the least contact with what she believed must have been the wildly crab-infested sand.

Woody, who shares a special bond with Jessie, saw the panicked crab racing away and heard his sister's screams of panic.  Believing that this was The Done Thing in such situations, he followed suit.

So together, they lost their collective minds.

"IT BIT ME!  IT BIT ME!  IT BIT ME!" they both screamed, skipping around me in random circles.  First Jessie and then Woody decided that they needed to get their feet as far away from the sand as possible, so they started climbing my body like a ladder, begging and pleading to be taken home and never forced to return to such a dangerous place.

Poor Jessie was absolutely terrified so I had been placating her since the ordeal started, telling her that the crab had just given her a pinch and there was no blood and no actual injury, and that the crab had got a terrible fright because he got stepped on ... but it was no use.  My soothing words were falling on deaf ears and Jessie as Woody kept up their screaming protests.

Now I am sorry about this, but at this point, I started to laugh. Perhaps the funniest part of all this was that Woody was copying everything Jessie did and repeating everything she screamed although he hadn't had any contact with the crab himself.

Perhaps it was the fact that if Jessie could stop going crazy for a moment, she would hear what I was saying and realise she didn't have to continue going crazy.  Perhaps it was that two children were climbing my body like a ladder, or maybe I was slightly hysterical myself.

Perhaps it was just that after a whole week of us pleading with her not to collect shells, it appeared that a random crustacean was going to have more luck getting through to her than two grown adults.

Whatever the reason, I started to laugh the sort of laugh that keeps going even when your lungs are empty and tears are pouring down your face.  I sat on the sand with two small children clinging to me screaming, "IT BIT ME!  TAKE ME HOME NOW!  I HATE THE BEACH!" and I laughed like a fool.

Then I noticed that although there were only a few families on the beach at this time, they were all looking at us.  Let them look, I thought.

Our new Skim Disk was the perfect thing to take Jessie's and Woody's minds off the abuses rendered by the crab and I spent a blissful hour pulling first one then the other child along, sliding along the sand and then hydroplaning in the shallow water.  The morning grew warmer and the sun started beating down stronger and hotter, so by mid-morning we packed up and headed towards the car.

Then it started again.

"THERE ARE CRABBIES (seriously - 'crabbies'?) IN THE SAND!  CARRY ME!  THEY WILL BITE MY TOES! LIFT ME UP! CRABBIES!" Jessie and Woody screamed as I lugged towels, bags and a Skim Disk towards the carpark.

Our path took us right by the lifeguard's hut.  As we got closer, the noise of the crying and screaming brought the lifeguard to the window.  He may well have assumed that my children had been badly stung all over their bodies by bluebottles or had perhaps lost some limbs to sharks.

"Uh - the little one got nipped on the thumb by a crab.  Thought it was a shell.  No skin broken.  Just ... a bit of drama," I sheepishly admitted as we trudged by.

As I packed children and accessories into the car, I thought about our much-anticipated beach holiday coming up after Christmas.  Will Jessie remember about the crab, and will she agree to try the beach again?  And more interestingly: will she ever collect any more shells?

As I drove off, I predicted that seashells might be safe from Jessie in the future.


Tracy P. said...

Oh my. That is hilarious--I can picture it as though I had been there! Sorry Jessie! At least it's good that they know they love the Skim Disk. Maybe that thought will outweigh their misgivings. I'm so glad it made you laugh! Too bad you didn't catch it on video. :-)

Andi said...

I just laughed out loud through that entire post. LOVED IT.

One time when my girls were maybe 3&4 I put on a scary mask at Halloween and stuck me head around the corner to look at them. I didn't even say anything. They screamed and screamed and cried and screamed...

And I, bad mom that I am, nearly wet my pants laughing at terrifying my small kids in Walmart.

Dawn said...

I think it's always funnier if we aren't supposed to laugh. The more you think "this is mean to laugh" the funnier it gets!

Crazy Sister said...

That is terribly funny! Trying not to make contact with sand while you're standing on a beach... oh dear!

Cath said...

That made me laugh. The best bit was how you couldn't stop laughing - that happens to me ALL THE TIME!

I agree with Dawn - the more your head tells you you are being cruel the more it seems funny.

A small win for all crabs everywhere, I guess. I just hope she will overcome beach phobia now so you can enjoy visiting there again!