Fresh from a beach trip with my family, I've pulled together a list of the things that make it quintessential.
You know you're on summer vacation...
When your children jump into puddles and you think, "Well, these have to be cleaner than the ones back home."
When you're at a Mexican restaurant and you guiltlessly hand your kids the phone (YouTube!!) because you want to enjoy your margarita in peace and quiet and hey, it's your vacation, too.
When the family renting the beach house next door comes over with cookies, each child eats three, and you still decide to take the whole gang out for ice cream.
When you're firmly anti-gun, but really, they're just water shooters (they're hot pink!) and they do keep the children occupied for hours.
When it's your turn to wake up with the baby at 5:40 AM... but that means you get to be first in line at the doughnut shop.
When the sound a manhole cover makes when you jump on it is music to your little one's ears... and when you finally stop to listen, you start to hear it, too.
When dropping pebbles into a toy dump truck for the zillionth hour starts to feel like meditation.
When window-shopping with your mom counts as exercise.
When flip-flip tan lines and rosé with a cube of ice...
When the only rush is to make it back to the beach in time to see the sunset.