I don't take toys that I'm not willing to lose down to the river. Especially not floating toys, because my littlest guys aren't too great at keeping hold of them. They decide to move on to a new game, and whatever they were just holding is drifting slowly downstream until someone else notices and goes after it. And this mommy hasn't done a lot of "going after it" the last two summers. I know I'm not going to move fast enough on those slick rocks to catch whatever it is before it gets too far for me to pursue. If it's important, we'll check later in the wide pool where most things seem to settle.
Before I hurt my knee, I did go after an awful lot of pool noodles, but my priorities have changed a bit. I'll still go after shoes, because those are a lot harder to replace.
Even if things don't go downstream, they tend to wander away from us. My oldest son is always happy to share with whoever asks, even if that means his newest acquaintance is taking our toys down to the other end of the beach and not playing with him at all. I'm all for sharing, but too much of it can leave my other kids with nothing to play with and a nearby pile of abandoned pool noodles that I think are probably ours. I've left behind quite a few because I wasn't sure enough to pick them up when it was time for us to go home.
It's so much easier if I can remember beforehand to put our last name on them with a Sharpie. That also works with plastic dinosaurs and little Hot Wheels cars that the boys want to take with them to activities. Even an initial or dot of colored nail polish will do the trick -- I'm not trying to prove ownership to anyone else, just to make sure that I can keep track of what's ours. Personally, I'm not a mommy who can identify little metal cars or plastic animals. And I don't think there's a mommy out there who can pick out her own Dollar Tree pool noodles from a pile of them!
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