We read a book about the sand and the ocean and the birds and the sky to try to prepare Atticus, but he didn’t really know what we were talking about. Just pictures in a book, undifferentiated from Yoda or the dinosaurs that roar. His sweet face was so trusting when he repeated the words after us: umbrella, sandcastle, waves. I wondered if the ocean would be too loud, whether he would recognize his own untamed playful spirit.
Do you remember the first time you saw the ocean? I don’t. I remember things like collecting shells with my grandmother and building sandcastles with my dad and watching the sun rise over the Atlantic. Atticus has been here before, but it was before he could walk or talk, before he was so fun. When we got here, we dumped our suitcases at the bottom of the stairs and he and I headed for the beach, practicing our words again: sand, beach, ocean. He gripped my hand, unsure but willing. Dirty, he proclaimed the sand. Dirty toes.
I sometimes wish he would always cling to me like he does when we try something new. Much too soon for my taste, he was running down the beach, cackling and turning back to see if I was chasing him. He kept a safe distance from the water until I demonstrated the fun of getting your toes wet. He laughed at that, too, and called out for more.
His little body amazes me, so sturdy and strong. It grew in me and came out of me and I nourished it for over a year, but he is also a little person all his own. He trusts us as we teach him words and give him new experiences. He jumps off tables and chairs into our arms, even when I would rather that he have a little more caution. I know that one day he will learn to be more circumspect and skeptical. For now, his wide grin, cackling laugh, and open heart are what is saving my life this week.
What is saving your life this week?