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the beach

January 24, 2011

It’s been perfect beach weather here in Los Angeles…80 degrees…cloudless sky…no wind.

Any normal mother would take advantage of the weather by packing up sunblock, a bathing suit, some snacks and her kid, and driving 10 minutes west to the beach.

Except that this normal mother swore up and down not too long ago that she would never, ever take her kid to the beach again. Ever.

Picture this…it’s 2008. Maya needs to go potty. I’m in flip-flops, Maya is in flip-flops, and the only available bathroom is covered in inches of sand and water and God only knows what else. There is no soap. There is no toilet paper. There are no seat covers. There are bugs. And lots of gross people milling about.

Did I mention there is no soap?

Stuff splashed on my feet. I still have no idea what it was. It splashed on Maya’s feet too as we waded through what can best be described as muck. And Maya had to sit on the dirtiest…my God forget it. It’s too terrible to rehash. I get shivers just thinking about it. I’ve blocked it out of my mind. For good.

The bathrooms in Turks and Caicos are spotless. Too bad the island is an 8 hour flight from here...

After we left the beach that day I scrubbed Maya up and down for about 10 minutes in the hottest water she could stand. And then I did the same to myself. And I told Ali to do the same even though he was nowhere near the bathroom.  He knew better than to point out my flawed logic.

Call me inflexible. Call me crazy. But until Maya masters the art of hovering we will not be going to the beach again.


85 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 12:47 am

    That’s why men and boys are lucky! I have seen those restrooms…yuck!

    Luckily, we haven’t come across this problem with my daughter yet…I don’t know what I would do!

    Wonderful weather though. Just tell your daughter she must use the bathroom before you leave the house and don’t stay at the beach too long 🙂

  2. January 24, 2011 3:16 am

    OMG woman…., that’s one tragic tale – glad you all survived. I hate crowded beaches for that reason…., not that we really have to worry to much about crowded beaches here in Oz., but the more people the more chances of a crappy (no pun intented) pit stop! 🙂

  3. January 24, 2011 4:05 am

    Ewwwww sounds gross!
    You should see what they call a “beach/seaside” in the UK, its really no better than a cesspool. You’d be running back to sunny CA.
    *kisses* HH

  4. January 24, 2011 4:13 am


  5. January 24, 2011 4:18 am

    I wouldn’t go either!!! I hate sand and how it gets everywhere. Barf.

    I prefer pools.

  6. January 24, 2011 4:21 am

    I couldn’t be more jealous of your weather! 10 degrees in DC is just not cool.

  7. January 24, 2011 4:24 am

    Bathrooms at the beach have always grossed me out. Sandy bottoms on a toilet seat is the worst feeling in the world. Hovering would definitely be nice.

  8. January 24, 2011 4:54 am

    You are a hero for the attempt. I *always* wear my flip-flops when going into public bathrooms at the beach or water park. I do not understand how people can barefoot it. Having to put your shoes on and take them off and find places to put them all the time is irritating, but the thought of stepping in an unidentifiable liquid is making me feel like I am about to throw up my coffee.

    • January 24, 2011 5:00 am

      okay I just re-read and I realized this problem went deeper than flip-flops. Terrifying!!!

  9. January 24, 2011 5:12 am

    Should have just gone in the ocean 😉

    I feel kind of the same way about the beach– I always THINK I want to go, but then we get there, and it’s crowded, and the sand is hot, and there are jellyfish in the water, and before too long, I just want to go HOME!! 🙂

  10. January 24, 2011 5:24 am

    I think at that point I’d have just gone into the surf, sat down, peed and been done with it. Salt water will wash it away and I’m not worried about catching some fungus or disease from someone in the muck.

    The beaches/bathrooms in Lebanon were always pristine too.

  11. January 24, 2011 5:24 am

    Ugh, I hate you! It’s currently below zero in Boston (-25 with wind!)… I need to move to LA.

  12. January 24, 2011 6:32 am

    its -2 degrees here! I’ll take maya to the beach for you so you won’t have to relive that painfull experience. (just pee in the water!)

  13. January 24, 2011 6:54 am

    Ugh, thanks for officially disgusting me this morning.

  14. January 24, 2011 7:07 am

    Ewww! How nasty. At least you took her to the bathroom. I would have told my son to just go jump in the water, but if there was more ‘uh hem’ business to tend to, then I guess there’s really nothing that could have been done differently! Talk about a way to ruin the rest of the day right?

  15. January 24, 2011 7:19 am

    Ohhhh those bathrooms, ughhh nasty! I’m not jealous of that but def that you are in such great weather!!! Enjoy!!!

  16. January 24, 2011 7:29 am

    oh I am NEVER taking my kids to the beach unless I know for sure that there is a clean bathroom. Hell, I’ll buy my own soap and TP if I remember this post at the time.

    I hate sand. It just bothers me.

  17. January 24, 2011 7:29 am

    “the art of hovering” hehe

    Boy, do I have tales from the beach…the most memorable is too shameful to go into too much detail, so I think it’s better if I not talk about it. Let’s just say it involves a very poisonous jelly fish, several portable mini water coolers, and lots and lots of 7-Up.

    Some advice for future reference : 1) Tinkle doesn’t “cure” painfully jellyfish stings. Hot showers do. 2) When desperate, you may find some of your closest (and not close at all-est) friends pouring their “golden elixir”on you. On the beach. In public. 3) I repeat, tinkle DOES NOT cure jellyfish stings. Trust me. The end.

    • January 24, 2011 9:19 am

      I won’t be heading to the beach for obvious reasons anytime soon, but I now feel fully educated about what to/not to do if I am every attacked by a jelly fish. Thank you for dispelling the myth that the notorious “Friends” episode spread!

  18. January 24, 2011 7:51 am

    Ew, this sounds like many bathrooms in Pakistan. Needless to say, it’s better to hold it in such situations. So Maya could master the art of hovering or holding it 🙂

  19. January 24, 2011 7:56 am

    Too weird cause I just had a dream last night about going to the beach in LA! What an adorable picture of Maya! Anyways, the dreaded washrooms are why I hate taking my kiddies swimming, to the beach, or anywhere public. When K goes to public washrooms, she’s literally not allowed to touch anything. I carry her over the toilet. I know I won’t be able to do it much longer, but as long as I can still do it, I don’t care about back pains. Then I still make her wash her hands. She no longer looks at me like I’m crazy cause she’s used to it now, but I know how crazy this all sounds….whatever. My daughter is clean and that’s all I care about. Playschool is another story I can’t avoid though. Ugh.
    So jealous that you have a beach just 10 minutes away. I’d have to fly hours to get to any nice decent beach.

    • January 24, 2011 9:16 am

      I really wanted to carry her but I just couldn’t juggle so many things without both of us and all of our stuff falling into the muck. And nothing you wrote sounds crazy to me at all! Does that make us both insane? Possibly… 🙂

  20. January 24, 2011 8:04 am

    Oh C’mon…. don’t they have diapers, depends and hand sanitizer? Plus exposing yourself to all these germs increases your immunity. Maybe a potty in the trunk of your car? Or you can skip fun time at the beach forever and ever.

  21. January 24, 2011 8:25 am

    Gosh, I know how it feels! I HATE public restrooms at most beaches! Usually so dirty, no soap, no seat cover ARGH!! And I do have a habit to NOT ever sit on public toilet unless it’s super necessary (for the big one) but even that I sometimes hold it until I got home. Crazy? yes I know. I’m such a germ-phobia too.

  22. January 24, 2011 8:33 am

    and all of a sudden I am grateful I have boys.

    we should have gone to the beach. It’s an hour drive for us but it would have been worth it.

    we did the park scene instead. fun but no waves and salty beach air!


  23. January 24, 2011 8:34 am

    ahahahaah! i hate the beach. HATE . IT.
    this year, when my mom and i went to turks and caicos (that place is the BEST, i agree) i kinda just chilled by the POOL all day while my mom enjoyed the sand about 20 feet away. something about sand and actual ocean water just doesn’t appeal to me. so i feel ya. plus, im more into the whole “inside” bathroom kinda thing…
    don’t feel bad.
    at least you know your boundaries, woman!

  24. January 24, 2011 8:35 am

    why didnt you just let her pee in the water? lol.

  25. January 24, 2011 8:58 am

    I totally would have told her to pee in the water. 🙂

    Beach bathrooms are gross. The ones here, you can actually smell from across the street.

  26. January 24, 2011 9:35 am

    at least you can enjoy the beach weather… even if its not at the beach!

    Bathroom horror stories are quite scarring. I feel ya on that one!


  27. January 24, 2011 9:55 am

    Ughhhh I don’t even bother with seat covers. I squat. Did you know that atm’s are just as germ filled? Thank god I don’t use cash any more credit cards all the way!

  28. January 24, 2011 11:22 am

    Since having a potty trained child I have seen more disgusting bathrooms than the whole rest of my pre-mommy life combined. The kid is not disgusted. It seems unfair.

  29. January 24, 2011 12:04 pm

    my mom always gave up on finding a bathroom at the beach. Shed just say, starring into the horizon of the ocean, “Need to go to the bathroom? you’re lookin at it!”.

  30. January 24, 2011 12:09 pm

    If you need to put on wellies to brave the restroom you know the restroom is nasty – ugh! I’ve never been a fan of the Santa Monica beaches – too many encounters with needles and other questionable items on the shoreline. Malibu perhaps?

  31. January 24, 2011 12:32 pm

    First of all, I’m insanely jealous that you have 80 degree weather. I’m looking at sixteen inches of snow tomorrow, which will make my five proposals-due day all the better.
    Sadly, I think I’m going to be one of those grossly negligent parents who forgets to tell their kids to wash hands (save water!), let alone pay attention to whatever substances are on the bathroom floor. I’m the opposite of a germophobe – the more germs, the stronger the immune system (paltry logic, there). Thanks for holding up the good-mama fort 🙂

    • January 26, 2011 9:26 am

      I absolutely agree on the more germs, the stronger the immune system! I used to let Maya eat food off the floor, etc. But I draw the line in a bathroom, especially a beach bathroom. Nobody’s immune system could handle that!

  32. January 24, 2011 12:39 pm

    ahh beach bathrooms are the WORST!

  33. Michelle permalink
    January 24, 2011 1:08 pm

    That sounds SO gross! I went to a park where there were 3 toilets, but no stalls, and not even a door on the entire bathroom. Not right…

  34. January 24, 2011 1:12 pm

    What an awful experience!! Gross. Wonder if they maybe by chance have cleaned up the bathrooms since? If not the beach maybe the park or something since it is so beautiful out!!

  35. January 24, 2011 1:24 pm

    Public bathrooms are the worst! Especially at beaches. Or in subway stations. I have nightmares about those ones. I am a germophobe in the cleanest of places, so public restrooms, I will go out of my way to avoid.

  36. January 24, 2011 1:35 pm

    Now after all these pee in the ocean comments I am sure you will not let Maya swim in it either… Oh man 🙂 LOL

  37. January 24, 2011 3:20 pm

    i think beaches are actually worse than gas stations or anything of that kind! because you don’t find a layer of sludge + liquid on the bottom of a gas station bathroom, no matter how dirty it is (or so i’ve been so blessed as not to!) i’m a master hoverer! 😉

    last summer, we discovered the annenberg beach house in santa monica. for $10 (maybe less for a family pack) you get access to their pool + locker rooms (with CLEAN bathrooms) + can walk out onto the beach + sand if you want. not for daily use, but a cool experience + slightly “nicer” way to do a beach day.

    • January 24, 2011 7:21 pm

      Thank you Jessica for the recommendation. I’m definitely going to look into this place!

  38. January 24, 2011 4:46 pm

    so can i hate you because the high today was 12*?! you still want to live in new england? because i have nice apartment that you can stay in….

  39. actorsdiet permalink
    January 24, 2011 4:59 pm

    the only way i can go to the beach now is either at a hotel or at my uncle’s. i’ll invite you over the next time we’re housesitting so you can be a “good mom.”

  40. Kath (Eating for Living) permalink
    January 24, 2011 5:07 pm

    I’m always astonished how aversive conditions are survived by kids.

  41. January 24, 2011 5:16 pm

    the hover!! I totally play that game too, regardless of all of the statistics about cell phones being dirtier than toilets… I’m the only one who uses my phone, you know?

  42. January 24, 2011 5:19 pm

    UGH dirty bathrooms are the worst!! I saw an ad for these little cardboard chutes that women can use to pee standing up…

  43. January 24, 2011 6:03 pm

    The weather has been fantastic here in Southern California! The bathrooms are quite gross (ok, totally disgusting) but I just block out all the gross factors. Growing up we (all 11 of us) would travel every year to my Grandparents farm in Idaho. Did we stop at a restroom? No, it was always the side of the road. So maybe I embrace the whole gross factor better than most.

  44. January 24, 2011 6:17 pm

    omg that sounds disgusting! not the weather of course…i would cut off my right pinky for that right now! i’ve never been to a beach with a bathroom like that!

  45. January 24, 2011 6:28 pm

    OMG I can’t believe I’m looking at beach pics in January! You lucky lady! 🙂

  46. January 24, 2011 7:12 pm

    oh gross..I feel your pain…I dread going to public bathrooms…I would have told her to go in the water…:-&

  47. January 24, 2011 7:37 pm

    Oh God…that’s SO horrifying. That would be the one perk to living in uber-suburbia. If nothing else, we have an extraordinary over-abundance of clean public restrooms.

    Probably just stick to private pools for life. Some battles are not worth fighting and no one wants to know what sort of horror show awaits if hovering fails.

  48. Farina permalink
    January 24, 2011 9:14 pm

    I completely understand your logic! Even I want to block the image your words just created in my mind. I’m sure Maya will learn that art soon 🙂

  49. January 25, 2011 3:02 am

    Hah that made me laugh. I hate public toilets too and sadly have passed that bit of madness onto my kids. They don’t even go at school! Luckily (or not?) they are camels and have mastered the art of holding on. I am sure that must be bad for them and a good mother would encourage them to give up this madness. Sadly their mother is more mad than good…

  50. January 25, 2011 7:34 am

    bad restrooms for spoil the entire experience. atleast you have maya’s lovely pic.
    i find it weird that the rest rooms at most of the tourist spots are a lot worse.
    i keep a small hand sanitizer with me whenever i go to places like beaches or national parks etc but some rest rooms make me feel i should have better got a truck load of it.

  51. January 25, 2011 8:23 am

    Looks like such funnnnn! I wish I was at the beach–ahh, warmth.

  52. January 25, 2011 9:25 am

    I like the idea of the beach, the execution not so much. I hate that you get sand everywhere and the bathrooms in general really are pretty nasty. Luckily I have mastered the art of hovering, lol, but it is still pretty gross.

  53. January 25, 2011 12:06 pm

    I am all about clean bathrooms! good vacation highlight 🙂

  54. January 25, 2011 12:23 pm

    I feel your pain! Once I saw a homeless man shaving his face in a toilet and that was when I vowed to never go in the Santa Monica/Venice stalls again.

    But, I may stand corrected…did you see that Santa Monica is currently overhauling all their bathroom stations? I am not holding my breath, but am considering a more flexible policy.

  55. January 25, 2011 12:51 pm

    I HATE dirty bathrooms. Seriously, i would rather suffer holding it than use a gross public washroom. Ick. I totally understand 😦

  56. January 25, 2011 1:01 pm

    Just another reason why I shy away from motherhood!
    Seriously though, the way that I *do* the beach here in SoCal: Go to Santa Monica, Huntington or Zuma Beach at 7:00 am on Saturday or Sunday morning. Take a walk for an hour or go for a bike ride. Get tacos and return home by 10:00 am so that I can take a nap by 11:00.

  57. January 25, 2011 4:38 pm

    Oh no! I seriously can’t handle public bathrooms either. But yay for the fabulous weather!

  58. January 25, 2011 5:56 pm

    Ugh, gross, I dont blame you!

  59. January 25, 2011 6:09 pm

    Ewwww. That sounds terrible! I have to go back and read your post about flying with Leo just to get a better image in my head than that bathroom.

  60. January 25, 2011 6:52 pm

    My brother and cousin are the anywhere potty goers of the family. I mean seriously I think I would be constipated for days if I saw a sight like that.

    Ameena, S’pore was amazing!!

  61. January 25, 2011 7:41 pm

    thanks for the sweet comment! i do hope it gets easier, i feel like i’m eating everything in sight (luckily it’s all fruit, vegetables, and seitan), and i’m not sure why! it’s going to be a good challenge for me, and even though i’m doing it for ethical rather than health reasons, i can’t imagine but that it will do good things for my health!

  62. January 25, 2011 9:15 pm

    Sweetie- you’ve been going to the WRONG beach! Come to the one right down the street from me. It has a brand-spankin’ new bathroom that even has DOORS on the stalls! And the bonus is that you can come over to my house after your day on the sand where I’ll make your child eat enormous amounts of chocolate and brush our cats.

    Then I’ll teach her how to hover. I learned at age 5 thanks to a pin-worm incident at Disneyland. I haven’t sat down since then.

    • January 26, 2011 9:05 am

      Deb – Let me know the day and time and we will be knocking on your door. I promise you that! Pin-worms are SO gross. You just confirmed that I am not out out my mind for not allowing her to sit. Thank you for that.

  63. January 25, 2011 9:27 pm

    Oh goodness! This reminded me of the summer I spent in Africa while in high school. We had no toilets, and we had to squat morning, noon and night. Yuck! I don’t blame you. The beach is a messy experience anyways. Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. May the middle of your week be full of joy and laughter.

  64. January 26, 2011 3:58 am

    I was so happy to read your comment on my blog, especially because it brought me back to yours! I love, love your posts and have missed reading them regularly. Although this one made me jealous, because rainy and cold Taiwan does NOT permit beach visits right now. Oh, and your bathroom story also reminds me of the bathrooms here (needless to say I have WAY more unpleasant squat toilet stories than I’d care to…).

  65. January 26, 2011 7:12 am

    Oh puleeze Ameena, what’s a little fecal matter on sandy feet! lol
    Ok, ok, just teach your kid how to hover and get to the beach. I’m wading through 5 feet of snow, I’m completely and utterly jealous!

  66. January 26, 2011 7:28 am

    Gosh, kids change the way we look at everything…I mean E V E R Y T H I N G!!

  67. January 26, 2011 7:38 am

    Gosh, kids change the way we look at everything…I mean E V E R Y T H I N G!!

  68. January 26, 2011 8:37 am

    Yes, I see your point. The bathrooms here at the beach on our island is no better than what you describe. I actually had to change in one last summer, but the alternative was freeze to death in soaking wet clothes after a rough boat ride, plus drive 30 minutes in my car like that. You just brought back the nightmares. Glad you are having nice weather though.

  69. January 26, 2011 9:52 am

    One of the many reasons why i never use the restroom at the beach. lol. I’m totally loving the beach weather we’ve been having.

  70. January 26, 2011 1:34 pm

    I am with you on this one! Ewww, I hate beach washrooms because the water is always cold, you need to hold the faucets on and there is NEVER any soap! Sick!

    I think beaches are meant to enjoy on vacay 😉


  71. January 26, 2011 2:08 pm

    In that situation I would have taken her to pee in the ocean! What a gross bathroom, I got chills thinking about that too!

  72. January 26, 2011 5:52 pm

    Omg-first to the amazing weather you have, and second to the bathroom-that is filthy and something out of a nightmare! I soo do not blame you for not wanting to go back!

  73. January 26, 2011 8:14 pm

    Okay so you may think I am totally bizarre, but I have this portable potty seat for my little one. It is a little seat and you attach this special plastic bag with a “pad” type thing in the bottom to absorb the liquid. She goes in that , you tie it up and then throw it away. I love it so much. My Princess loves it so much. She won’t even go into a portapotty because she is so spoiled by her Princess potty. I got it because we are constantly at baseball/softball/football/lacrosse games for the older two. The porta pottys at sports fields my be equally as horrendous as beach ones!
    Well only a few more years and then you can start beaching it again!

    • January 27, 2011 7:45 pm

      Thank you for the suggestion! I have heard of these and I only wish I’d known about them earlier. Brilliant idea if you ask me!

  74. January 26, 2011 11:30 pm

    That is one cute smile on maya’s face. 😀 *pulls cheeks gives chocolates to the baby girl*

  75. magicofspice permalink
    January 28, 2011 9:30 pm

    Oh yuck! I have a solution…come to New port/Huntington and although the bathrooms are no cleaner, I am just up the street and mine are 🙂

  76. January 28, 2011 10:43 pm

    1) I would take potty on beach with 80 degree and sun over clean-freak Germany with 30 grey clouds and blahness.
    Just sayin…it’s a matter of downward comparisons
    2) I miss Trader JOe picnics on the beach….one day, I would love to meet you there!

    Can you transport me and my bad hip there telekinetically?


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