I couldn’t figure out what was happening on the beach. I saw adults of varied ages and kids watching two young women building a sandcastle. The young women had on matching t-shirts and assorted buckets around them with sandcastle logos. One was saying, “You pat the bucket to make the sand compacted,” and the group was nodding.
It was a sandcastle building lesson. This is apparently a thing. You can hire people to come show your family how to build a pretty basic sandcastle.
Isn’t this the kind of thing that can be handled in house?
I can get pretty judgey, pretty quick. I was rolling my eyes and thinking, “That’s the most bougie thing I’ve ever seen” before I even got to our spot on the beach.
But then, I started to think about the things I pay people to help my family with that my grandparents or even my parents would never have sourced out. I’ve paid someone to take pictures of my kids, braid their hair and teach them geometry. Granted, all of those things I tried myself first. Once either the children or I were in tears, I found help.
Maybe this family on the beach had tried building sandcastles before and it ended badly. Maybe the professionals were called in as mediators.
There’s a good chance that this tendency to outsource is tied to my generation, my race, and my socio-economic class.
Even regarding the things that we can surely handle on our own, we doubt ourselves.
We sell ourselves and probably our kids short when we buy into the myth that everyone else is more of an expert in just about every area than we are. We take away some of our influence and connection with our kids when we decide that someone else, anyone else can do better by our kids than we can.
I get that we all need breaks from our kids and that there are areas that we can’t learn how to do. But what if time with us is more important than a professional level sandcastle?
When our kids think back on their childhoods, I doubt they’ll remember the experts we found to help them. I think they’ll probably remember more the times we played basketball with them in the driveway or taught them to drive.
When I think back on my childhood, I remember that my dad taught me to waterski. I wasn’t very coordinated and I scare easily. Learning to ski basically involved him turning the boat around a million times and giving me the same instructions over and over. He was so patient.
My dad has also taught my brothers, my cousins, my husband and some of my kids to slalom. Someone else could have taught us, but we wouldn’t have had the wonderful memories of learning to ski from my dad.
Most importantly, I wouldn’t have gained the rare confidence that a girl gets from her dad believing in her.
It’s a truth that I draw from regularly, even as an adult: “My dad believes in me.” You can’t buy that kind of assurance.