What do you think?
What the mother sees:
Feeling the sand that surrounds me, I reach into my beach bag and put on my sunglasses. On the beach, my child Frank is playing in the water and sharing his toys with the other children. All of the kids are in brightly coloured clothes and easy to see. A speedboat in the distance skids across the water in front of me. A picnic table behind me is filled with food and surrounded by hungry youngsters. Other mothers who are scattered across the beach are talking to each other and lathering sunscreen on themselves and their kids, who are eager to play with the other little ones. Teenagers are laughing and making friendly fun of each other to my left.
Peering toward the beach in front of me, I see the kids, but I don’t see Frank. I start to panic and look closer. Maybe he is drowning far out in the water and nobody knows. Then I look back at the table behind me where his friends are. He is calmly sitting there while eating a hotdog. I should have thought of where he would have been.
What the mother hears:
The swashing waves of the ocean in front of me are calming, while I am lying down with my eyes closed on the bright beach. My giggling five-year-old son is beside me playing with sand that I can hear sifting through his fingers. Behind me a family is preparing lunch. Pop cans are hissing and chip bags are popping open. I hear the lively crash of silverware and plastic dishes bumping into each other. A distant speedboat is making a throbbing sound that echoes across the ocean. Listening to all of the sounds while I am lying down is relaxing.
What the mother smells:
On the beach I smell fresh, summery air mixed with salty water. The familiar scent of my husband beside me lets me close my eyes, because I know that he is looking out for my son. On the smoky charcoal fire are simmering juicy hotdogs that are nearly bursting on the barbecue behind me. People are opening pop cans and letting their pop’s sweet odor into the fresh air. The strong aroma of pickles and tangy smelling mustard is filling my nose. All of these smells, I enjoy.
The Grounds Keeper
What the Grounds Keeper sees:
Oh golly. How am I supposed to deal with a job like this? A stuffed monkey on the ground looks to be ripped up by dogs, thrown into water, and splattered with mustard. Welcome to the beach. Kids are in the brightest, most noticeable clothes their moms could find. Garbage flies through the air and lands on my feet. Garbage. My enemy. Some overweight people at a picnic table are stuffing their mouths with hotdogs. How utterly disturbing. Moms are trying to hold their kids back while lathering sunscreen on the youngsters. I’m surprised that they aren’t in a tangle. This place is a mess, and I don’t feel like taking care of it. Actually, it’s not a mess, it’s people-torn.
What the Grounds Keeper Hears:
Pop! I swear that’s the fifteenth chip bag being open by the same mom. I hear laughter. Fake laughter that I can hardly stand. Smash! Silverware clashing together leaves a ringing in my ears. Vroooooooooooommmmmm!!!!! There goes a jet ski. Oh, and guess who’s riding it? A complete show off that comes here every day on the scout for some cute girls who might have a crush on him. Screaming toddlers are out of control at the abused park. Sometimes, I wish I could clean up the clutter of sound.
What the Grounds Keeper Smells:
Again. And again. I find them every day. Those stinky chip bags with old mustard and pickle juice that I can feel eating away at my nostrils. When I first came hear, the smell of the barbecue was relaxing, but now it is intoxicating my own lungs. Am I breathing? Pop is being gargled down the throat of young kids, and somehow, that orange crush scent is still escaping out and into the polluted air. Oh, someone cut the cheese… again. I wish I had a fan to blow it right back into their faces. Please smell, just stop coming!