A summer place

Mom, where's my wet suit? Dad, is this shark bite serious? A day at the beach with the kids and other creatures of the sea.

"MOM? Mom? Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom … "

It sounds like the call of a sea bird. In fact, it is the call of the American child, identifiable by its relentless pursuit of sugared food and an inability to do anything for itself. They cannot be domesticated. Believe me, we've tried.

"Mom? Mom? Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom … "

We are at the beach with four other families. One of the American children wants something done. Fast. But first, the mother must:

— Stir it.

— Pour it.

— Patch it.

— Tweezer it.

— Fill it with air.

— Ice it down.

— Stitch it up.

— Kiss it.

— Slice it into edible chunks.

— Drive home to retrieve it.

Those are just some of the things a mother is asked to do during a day at the beach. There are many more.

"Can you lotion up my back?" one of the dads asks.

Obviously, there are worse things asked of a mother at the beach. Unsure of your spouse's love? Just ask her to put sunscreen on your middle-aged back, thick with monkey hair. Go ahead, ask. It'll make whatever you request next seem like slurping caviar.

Yes, we're finally back at the beach, five families, 10 bags of hot dog buns, a million marshmallows. Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire with fewer supplies than we take for a simple day in the surf.

"Mom? Mom? Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom … "