The air was hanging over me, humidity high. I was always excited when we planned our trips to the beach, it is the trip I home I hate. Sunburnt, sandy and tired. But at that moment when my feet touched the hot sand, I breathe in deep and take in the salt air. Sea gulls calling from above...a smiling-sunny-giggling kind of day ahead.
Bundles, towels, blankets, buckets, shovels, coolers and beach bags tossed around after we found the perfect spot. Off they go, and I sit back and enjoy.
Echoes of laughter fill the air, the pound of the surf. Keeping watch with occasional glances to my right and left, somehow the air at the beach keeps them playing together, no fights. I wonder if I could bottle some and bring it home.
Up to the blanket scoots my brown eyed baby. I still call him baby at seven. Not to his approval of course.
"You promised...this is the year we ride the waves."
And so it is. Another milestone to conquer. I kick off the flops and follow him to the shore. He looks anxious and ready for the adventure...but I have to give some instruction first.
I guide him in watching the waves...explaining timing is the crucial aspect. You have to be aware of the pattern. You also have to know when to stay...and when to go.
I do not think he listens to a word I say. His eyes are watching the waves, but I can tell his mind is already riding them up and over, around and about.
So, I give up and we hit it. The chill of the water makes me jump back, and I see the look of worry. I let him know without words, this is his day, it is going to happen.
I dive under and get it over with. We get out to where we can actually ride a wave. His first time this far, I can almost hear his heart beating.
So we begin...I watch and and I give the direction....get ready, get ready....go.
Up atop the wave his smile lights up giving the sunshine competition for its glare. Over and over we ride the wave, return and swim. He never tires...but I do.
"I'm going into shore...almost lunch time. Maybe more later?"
But he begs for a few more. So I head in a little and turn to watch, not quite ready to leave him on his own.
I watch with mixed emotions....milestones move us forward. My baby growing up. The last of the bunch.
He is finally tired and heading in. He begins walking my way, and I realize he isn't watching..a direction I didn't give him, how to head in.
Sure enough, the next thing I see are arms, then legs flapping and flaring up and down from the water. I can taste the salt water in my throat knowing what he is going through. I feel the sand beating him up from below as I know the wave is pushing and pulling him out of control.
I reach and pull him to safety. His eyes show the fear of that experience I know too well...the out of control spinning, where you can't gain control. A little coughing, some spitting and the emptying of sand from his suit. I wrap my arm around him, and we head back for lunch.
A moment for him to still be my baby as I wrap him in the towel and share my stories of the same uninvited adventure. I let him know we learn to be alert and to watch...
"I still need you to watch for me mom"
I hold him tight. He has no idea how much those words meant. Time will move fast...each milestone coming quicker. Soon he will be out in the waves of life...ready to swallow him, spin him out of control. For now I can still watch and shelter him from the world. Or at least be close enough...to pull him from its grasp. I have time to teach him, how to be alert and to watch.