The sweetest sound is her voice calling, “Now…Aunt Meg…NOW…swim…swim…swim”. Or is the sweetest sound his voice cheering me on as he catches the wave with me and rides it all the way in to the sandy shore where we lie laughing as the next one crashes over our heads and flips us over? Venturing out into the freezing cold water on the ocean side of the Cape, Emily and Max proved that you can teach this old dog new tricks.
An hour later I am staggering up the beach, looking like a drunk, high on salt water and sun. Warn out from fighting against the waves to get out where I can catch them again, I wonder how I ever played for hours on end in the surf as a kid…where did I get the stamina, the energy, the ability to stay warm? And I wonder if I ever played as hard as he does. You know, I don’t think I ever did.
There is nothing like learning something new from your child. Nothing like being a beginner and having to put your trust in the wee one you are signed up to protect. Sure, I body surfed as a kid and I suppose this is NOT that much different but it has been so long, and we never did have these boogie board when I dove in and out of the waves. The closest we got was a half deflated raft that rode out past the waves and laid on while it rocked our sun-drenched bodies.
And truth be told, I never was as brave as Max is in the water. Not even back then when I was on the verge of turning 8. I was afraid and had to push myself out into the surf. I was never a strong swimmer and I never trusted that the waves would not drag me back out with them to sea. I wonder if I really allowed myself to let go of the fear long enough to feel the thrill I feel now.
And with this realization, it hits me like a truck. My fears are not his fears. His journey is separate from mine. Somethings I will be able to teach him, but many things I will not. If I am lucky I can hold the space while he learns, witness his growth. And even now at the tender age of almost 8 he is teaching me, teaching me what he knows, what he has learned. Not just guiding me along as the universe teaches but he is actually teaching me. He knows stuff that I don’t. He knows stuff I never will know. Even now.
Last night, as we drove home from the grocery store, he decided to fill me in on the latest of his discoveries.
“Do you know, Mom, that I am brilliant. I may in fact be smarter than you. Yup. I probably am. Because you, Mama…you are a grownup. And grownups are kids who have lost their imagination. I still have mine so I think–I think that makes me smarter.”
He doesn’t know how right he is. He knows so much that I am only hoping to one day learn. I wonder if he too will one day need a child to teach him. To show him how to ride to waves and laugh when they crash. To teach him to be brave. Or to dance. Or to write poetry or scuba dive or fly into the air on a glider.