Last weekend my son and I found ourselves alone on Maple Bay beach. It was shortly after sunrise, but still well before the weekend rowers began to arrive. It was just me with my coffee and my kid with his trusty shovel. For us, it doesn’t get better.
My entire family loves the water. It’s not too far into spring and we’ve already been to the beach a lot (multiple beaches actually) despite the seemingly never-ending threat of wind and/or rain. We are never dressed for the occasion and they tend to make the drive home without some (most) of their clothing because they can’t seem to keep themselves dry.
“Stay away from the water!” I plead. “You have no more dry shoes at home!” But my son just can’t. It’s impossible. He’s drawn to it in much the same way I am. You’d think I’d learn but I never do. He drenches his sneakers every time.
We spend hours digging. His favourite thing to do is to create culverts and trenches and moats and make various pools and mountains and dams and dump as much water (as quickly as I can fill his bucket) into the pits he’s dug and then work to repair the walls of his structures before the water inevitably escapes. We do this for hours and he never tires of it.
I try to tell him it’s futile; the water will always find a way to return to the sea. Still, he relentlessly tries to harness it with all the vigour and enthusiasm you would expect of a nearly-five-year-old.
The other week my son and I were up particularly early. My husband would sleep in every day if he thought he could get away with it and my daughter is at that age where it’s cool to get out of bed after she’s been put down for the night so she quite often sleeps in a bit, too. That combination means mornings are general special time for me and my boy. We both look forward to the one-on-one time.
Anyway, so we hopped in the car to go get a bagel and some hot chocolate (a giant coffee for me, who am I kidding… it was still dark out) and then we headed to the beach. I won’t get into the details because it was super special and I want to keep the experience private, but we got to watch my son’s first proper sunrise together and it was magical. I love how much he adores nature. He actually stopped his digging to marvel as the sun made its way into the sky.
Not soon thereafter, we recommenced our digging. We were there for close to three hours.
What all that digging has taught me is that there’s always going to be a hole to fill, a dam to patch, a leak to fix. There’s always going to be something broken. Some of it will be big stuff, some of it will be small, and some we won’t believe we’ll ever be able to repair at all. But having great angst about it isn’t going to help. It’s best sometimes to just put your head down and pick up your shovel. No, not to dig yourself in deeper, but just to fortify the places where you think there may be cracks. But it never hurts, if you get the opportunity, to stop and appreciate the rising sun.