Playing in the Sandbox

I am currently at the coast with (brace yourself) six teenagers. Five are boys. Yes, you can smell the testosterone and yes, the food bill will require a small loan. My daughter has
gotten lumped into “hanging out with” or “come on boys” for years now. She rolls with their crass humor, arm punches, and more than occasional, oh…how shall I say this delicately?…unwanted odorous expressions. However, now that she, too, is a teen and I would prefer that she be clad in a full body wet suit rather than her itty-bitty Billabong bikini. It’s hard to see her as one of “the boys.” Nevertheless, for the simplicity of this blog, I will refer to the kids here forward as: “the boys.”

The theme of my blog centers a great deal around the inner shift that I experience as I have observed my children and children close to me. They grow from young, curious, fairly innocent beings and it seems that overnight they explode into adult like bodies but with minds that race to catch up. There’s a lot of posturing, checking out who is looking, posing, “please, Mom, God…we’re not little kids anymore,” conversations. During this week, I have witnessed
most of this melt away and what has emerged looked a lot like a scene that was next to me on the beach on day four of our trip. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me go back to day three.

I think it took two days for “the boys” to run themselves ragged, eat as many Starburst candies, mini-Hershey’s, slurp down several sodas, and then lie around moaning, “God, why does my
stomach hurt,” to realize that they could pace themselves. We hit our stride as a group on day three when the shovel made it to the beach. “Let’s dig a giant hole and we can all sit in it,” my son called out. This received a cricket chirping response. Luckily, my nephew is here with us and he has been part of a prior hole digging extravaganza and knows that this is not your ordinary little hole. I won’t name names, but someone moaned that it sounded like a lot
of work. But, as soon as some muscles started flexing and pretty girls in skimpy bikinis walked by lowering their sunglasses to check out the boy who was digging, they were all jumping at the chance to dig the biggest hole on the beach! Let me just say, it was awesome!

Just twenty-four hours later, our hole long forgotten, the boys all clad in wetsuits as they ran
for some of the biggest waves I’ve seen this summer, I parked myself in a beach chair vowing not to move for at least ten minutes. I’d hit the proverbial wall: late nights, lots of meal prep, never-ending tidying, no down time. I took a big breath and looked around at the groups of people enjoying the little sliver of sunshine that peeked through the fog. Beside me was a group of four young mothers with…grab your Kleenex…four little boys. One was nursing her little one. One was sweetly talking one down from chucking sand at another. Two were
digging with their little plastic blue and yellow shovels, digging their hole.

I got teary eyed then…I get teary eyed now.

Out in the ocean, “the boys” were getting further and further away because of the tide carrying them down shore. That’s what tides do–they carry you away. When “the boys” were out there, they needed to focus on me as a reference point or they’d lose their way. Every once in a while, I’d stand up and wave my hand and then they’d know where I was. That’s what they need now: a wave; to know where I am; to know that they are still safe, and then to come back to
me.

When “my boys” came out of the surf, I ran down to the water line to meet them and took their picture. I wanted to capture that moment forever. I had the urge to throw my arms around
them and say, “I love you! Please stop growing up!” Instead, we walked up to our place on the beach, each of them with their own story of how this or that wave pummeled them and did I see it?

I let them walk on ahead and stayed back a few feet, letting myself linger at the site of the
young mommies and little boys. The young mommies caught my eye and I said
to them, pointing to“my boys”, “In a few years, your little boys will look like my little boys. It goes by like that.” I snapped my fingers. They nodded and agreed knowingly.

But they really don’t know. I didn’t know.

I’ve probably said it before, and I’ll say it again, a friend told me that when I get into these nostalgic moments I should cling to this: Don’t be sad that it’s over; be happy that it happened.

I need to go…”the boys” will be waking soon. They’ll be hungry and then we’ll be off to play in the sand for another day…

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8 thoughts on “Playing in the Sandbox

  1. Okay…I’m a little weepy. I love that saying, “Don’t be sad that it’s over; be happy that it happened”. I have these wrenching moments that it’s all going by too fast, but my oldest is only (almost) 6. You are such a great writer! Thank you for sharing your special moments and your inspiring perspective.

    • Nice to chat with you, Kristin. I can’t believe that your oldest is that old, either! It’s tough…we want to hold on so dearly, but take it from me, it only gets better. Trust yourself and the blessings will come 🙂

  2. Your blog really should be called “Sip and tear” because I tear up every time I read one of your posts. Thank you for the reminder that what we already see as whizzing by with a 3 year old will only go faster. Will Nadia really be wearing an itty bitty bikini like Marina in 10 years???? Will it go even faster than the last decade has gone? I can hardly imagine.

  3. So insightful, Susan. I just about melted yesterday when Emory asked if I would play tennis with him. Heck yes! I love it when my teens still want to do things with me. We’re playing today (need to get new tennis balls) and I’ll try not to embarrass him.

    • Juli, don’t you love those moments. And I tell you, I had this incredible moment of sadness when I realized that you would not be at the junior high…I can’t believe you’re done their. We are losing a wonderful family! I’ll miss you tons.

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