On Wednesday, the ocean was a perfect shade of blue against the afternoon sky. I stood on the beach and looked down at my shoes and socks and wondered if today I’d have to run. An outrageous squid crept up behind me and climbed the sky casting a dark shadow on the sand. Blue, yellow, pink, green, purple tentacles all clapping indecisively and shifting the sunlight in my eyes. I could feel the thump and pump in my heart as I watched my two kids stumble and giggle through the lines of this kite. In the glare I could see the smiles on the parents turn to an awkward slant and the squid now fell limp and heavy from the sky. Down it came crashing. I climbed through the sand and began to untangle my children’s little feet and legs from the rope. All this beach and they still manage to catch themselves like backward swimming fish in a net.
I braced myself and took off my shoes and socks and placed them next to Willows. I was amazed to see my son do the same and to see him tolerate the sand beneath his toes. The wind carried his pride, “Flexible, Mom! Flexible!”
Hunching like a sore and steady soldier I knew the very real ambush and consequence of the word flexible.
The kids ran through the water and I practiced my breathing as I seemed to sense every single drop of water attach itself to their clothing inching-ever-so-close-toward their limit. My son was becoming too heightened, too stimulated by the water and what first looked like an elegant gallop turned into a hippopotamus stomp and crash: sea salt splashing everywhere and on everyone.
“Slow down,” I could hear myself muster as parents pulled their little ones from his crashes.
“Calm, Liam. Calm!” My son lacks body awareness. He underestimates his strength and struggles with his reflexes. He also struggles assessing his surroundings often falling, tripping and hitting his head.
I reminded them. I ran after them and between the wind and the quicksand came a grotesque rogue wave that swallowed me whole–Willow’s all to familiar screams– crashing, pouring, drowning and irreparable.
Her belly was pushed in the brown sand and she rolled herself desperately deeper in the wet ocean thinking it would dry her off. Up on the beach I could see the quiet onlookers and I wondered if they carried like birdwatchers binoculars–studying us from their picnic tables, mouth gaped open wide. The little red buckets around us stopped moving and green shovels dropped like rocks in the sand. My shoes, they should have stayed on because carrying a five year old who is kicking and screaming and keeping track of my son who is now also becoming rigid is hard. There is no time for putting on shoes.
One hour later and having managed to get Willow home behind locked doors where she is safe, I waited and waited.
“Wizards!” I said. Willow’s brown eyes glanced up from behind her small hands.
“Wizards know best!” I wrapped her in my arms and for the first time she let me.
“They know about water and sand! They also know about seagulls and crashes and squeezes.” I squeezed her little body tight.
“Wizards know best. They roll you and they squeeze you. They hug you and they love you. They brush you and they calm you. Wizards, know the trick! Yes, Wizards, know best!”
There was a smile and Willow’s rigid body began to loosen up.
“Squids, kites, buckets and shovels…Wizards know best! Waves, water, salt and splashing. Wizards! They know sillies and they squeeze you and they love you and they…”
“Hug you!” Yelled, Willow as she opened her arms to me and came back.