This year, like every year, our family went to Gulf Shores, Alabama for vacation. This family tradition started long ago. As a matter of fact, For the last 40 years, I have enjoyed every family vacation in the same spot. The smell of the salt air, the feel of white sand, the sound of the ocean, enjoying late night walks on the beach and the laid back southern lifestyle, even the 70% humidity, draws my back like a vacuum, time and time again.

One of my favorite things to do is to sit on the beach and soak up the sun while the kids play in the water. This, for me, is pure bliss. Devin, on the other hand, pretty much just tolerates it. It is clear, when he walks out on the beautiful white sands of Fort Morgan that he was not created for the beach life. With his tennis shoes and socks, ball cap, hunting magazine and umbrella in hand, he makes his way to our usual spot and begins to set up camp. He slathers himself down with sunscreen and then sits in the shade of his watermelon print beach umbrella. He doesn’t really care for the water, or the heat, or the humidity, or the bright sun, but still, he goes with me every year and pretends to love it as much as I do.

This year the weather was perfect and so was the water. No looming hurricanes, no big waves, no strong under currant not even any jellyfish…..except for that one, and boy was he a whopper!

Devin and I had been sitting in our chairs watching the kids play in the water when we decided that we would join them in the water and cool off a bit. Devin took off his ball cap, put down his hunting magazine and crawled out from under his umbrella, picked up the frisbee and headed for the water. Once we made it out to where the kids were, he and Caleb began tossing the frisbee back and forth. Soon thereafter, I decided to WOW them with my frisbee throwing abilities so I joined in on the fun.

Let me pause right here and add a little side note. We do not have cable in our house…..or high speed internet…..or even call waiting for that matter, but it’s the lack of cable t.v. I want to address right now. Since we do not have cable, or dish or anything else that would give us more than nine channels to choose from, we don’t get to watch some of the shows that cable t.v. offers, like the discovery channel for example. So when we got to my parents beach house, the kids couldn’t wait to plop down in front of the t.v. and watch the discovery channel and animal planet. As soon as they reached their channel of choice, I saw it. SHARK WEEK! Unbelievable! Of all the weeks to be at the beach, we pick shark week! As I said before, I have spent the better portion of my younger years on the beach and in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and I have NEVER been afraid of what lies beneath, neither have my kids. But I have to admit, watching hours upon hours of true life accounts of shark attacks would make, even me, think twice when entering the water. Next year I’m gonna plan our vacation around shark week that’s for sure! Now back to my story.

While we were enjoying a friendly game of frisbee toss, Devin tossed one a little too high and a little too long for Caleb. It went right over his head. Caleb quickly turned around and headed for deeper water to retrieve the floating frisbee. Just about the time he got chest deep in the water, he began to scream in pain! It was at that point (about 1 second after the initial scream) that I began to go “there”, you know…..”there”…..the place where you keep all of your horrible thoughts and fears….well that’s where I went! As soon as I heard him scream and saw him trying to run from whatever it was that was getting him, I just knew it was a shark! Yes, the 72 hours of shark attack stories had finally gotten to me. My mind began to race like crazy! Can I get to him in time? How will I fight the shark? With my bare hands? Can I get Caleb back to shore in time to save his life? A million thoughts ran through my mind in a matter of seconds. Devin, on the other hand, had not even raised an eyebrow! He just stood there like Kalija the wooden indian. Emotionless. Waiting for the frisbee to be thrown back to him. Not even thinking that our son could be bleeding to death in the water! I quickly yelled out, “what is it Caleb? Are you ok?” With a grimace on his face, he said, “I’ve been stung by something!” At that moment I came back from “there” and back to reality. I told him to get out of the water and go rub some sand on his sting while I went to get the frisbee. As soon as I got to the place where Caleb had been standing, the mystery monster got me! Wow! I now understood why Caleb was yelling so! It was a jellyfish. I felt the pain shoot through my leg as his tentacles wrapped around my calf. I have been stung many times in my life but this was different! This was not your garden variety jellyfish! He was a doozy! We quickly got out of the water and went to our chairs so we could apply some ointment and compare war stories. In a few minutes, after things calmed down, Caleb said, “mom I have heard that if you pee on a jellyfish sting, it takes the pain away, can I try it? Can I pee on my leg? (I could not believe my ears! Who thinks of this stuff?)”That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard of!”, I said, “No! Just give it a few minutes and it will feel better.”

Sure enough, in about ten minutes he was back in the water playing with his sisters. Within a matter of minutes tho, the drama began once again, it was Cassady this time! Lord help us all! When she gets hurt it’s much more dramatic and hurts much worse than everyone else! She came stomping up the beach making her way to my chair. She was mad as a wet hen and very loud with her griping and complaining about her injury. With tears streaming down her face she exclaims, “I’m ready to leave! I’m never going back in that water! I want to go home now!” About that time Caleb walks up to see how his sister is doing. There’s really no talking to Cassady when she is mad. Normally, we just wait until she calms down before we try to reason with her or ask any questions. Well, Caleb didn’t do that! He immediately said, in all seriousness, “Cassady, I heard that it helps take the sting out if you pee on it. Since you can’t pee on it, do you want me to pee on it for you?” (Bless his heart, he don’t know) with her teeth clinched and her lips tight, she snapped, “Caleb, if you pee on me i swear, I’ll brake your arm off and you’ll draw back a nub!” Caleb, not understanding her anger, went back into the ocean. He felt it was safer in there with the sharks and jellyfish than it was up on the shore with Cassady.

After all the drama was over, we went back to the house and got in a few more hours of shark week. The next day, we were back in the water enjoying another day of fun in the sun, free of jellyfish…..and sharks!