I’ve thought about doing this book a few times, but I read it for the boys before nap the other day and just had to bring it downstairs to write about it. It’s The Berenstain Bears By the Sea and it riles me up every time I read it.
The story starts very innocently, with the bear family in the car on the way to their vacation at a beach house. There’s clean air, some seagulls flying and what appears to be a nice house awaiting them. Then…
Now, if Erin and I went on vacation and walked in to a house with sand piles everywhere, I better darn well have paid practically nothing for the place. Because if you’re running a business and you can’t bother to get rid of standing sand piles, I have my doubts about the rest of the place. CLEARLY the bears don’t have access to Yelp.
So it’s bad enough that they walk in to find the house like this. But if you know Mama Bear, things are about to get much worse.
Oh, and you think sweeping those little piles is going to be good enough for Mama Bear? Well, clearly someone hasn’t been spending enough time reading Berenstain Bears books, because Mama is not that easy to please…
Making the beds and unloading the car, okay, I get. If the lazy owner hasn’t made your bed, you should probably sleep on sheets (though I wouldn’t bet on them being that clean based on what we’ve seen about the house so far), and the car isn’t going to unload itself. BUT, who cleans the closets and rakes the walk? I don’t clean my own closets like that, let alone someone I’m paying. And there are hardly any leaves on that walk, why is she making them rake it? Is she just trying to waste their time???
Once you’ve finished all that work, one would assume the ocean would be calling. But, again, Mama…
Yes, Mama, we’ve got all day. Except, oh wait! You’ve made us clean all day! There was the drive in this morning, so we’re looking at getting there probably around 10 at the earliest. Then there was sweeping the entire house, unloading the car, scrubbing closets and raking the walk. We’re easily looking at 1-2pm here. Not that it’s getting late, but that’s nothing to sneeze at. You’re looking at the day rounding the corner toward darkness, when the beach is NOT the place you really want to be.
Then Mama does something that is, in my opinion, horrible.
She tells the cubs that they have all day, then she says they need to have a little snack. So loving, so motherly, so…WAIT, WHAT?!?
You’ve got two kids who are champing at the bit to get out into the water, you KNOW this, Mama. Yet you string them along doing these chores that either should have been done by the people you’re paying before you got there (making beds and sweeping sand) or don’t need to be done at all (scrubbing closets and raking walks). Then you sweetly offer them food only to inform them that the food they just ate at your behest is going to keep them from going in the water for even longer??? That’s cold.
The next page, that I didn’t copy, has the kids saying “rats and phooey!” and Mama replying “Now, let’s not be rude!” She’s lucky these kids are young, because if we were looking at middle schoolers or older, there’s be a full on coup going down in that house. I’m frustrated for them and I’m not there AND IT’S NOT REAL!
Fast forward two pages and the family is actually AT the beach (they mention it’s already late afternoon, thanks Mama). Then two things happen.
Firstly, starting it with “that’s why we’re here, to swim in the ocean”??? It seems to me that they are the ones who know it and Mama’s the one that needs to be reminded of it. Secondly, as any self respecting white person can tell you, putting sunscreen on right before going into the water is a fools game. You’ve got to put that stuff on either just before you leave the house to go to the water or on the drive to the water. You want that stuff good and soaked in before you get in the sun. Doing it just before you get in the water…waste of money.
Finally, to the water!
Papa’s lucky he doesn’t get his head knocked off here. You find out he only wanted them to wait for him, but with all that’s been going on that day, I would understand it if the next page was Brother and Sister standing over an unconscious Papa, looking at Mama and daring her to say something.
Isn’t that what we all want our kids to say mid (or post) vacation? “Yeah, I had a good time, kind of. Would I suggest it…I don’t know, there were some crappy parts. It may have been worth it. Maybe. I don’t know.”