The weekend after Father’s day, my son and I spent the weekend at Ocean city with my dad and his fiancée. We drug our beach chairs, cooler, sand toys, and more all over the beach. After much indecisiveness, we finally found an open spot. My son kept asking to get into the water. I kept advising him that we could as soon as we got everything set up. I watched as my dad struggled to pop open this beach tent that he just purchased. I looked over at my son and saw eager in his eyes. I felt the same as him, these chairs, the cooler, all of it took away from a natural setting. Almost like going camping with an expensive RV with a TV and WiFi – it takes away so much from the experience. So, after about 5 minutes, I ditched the setup team. “What do you want to do first?” I asked him. He grabbed sand buckets and tried to fill them up with pure sand. I explained that we needed water to create actual sand castles. So, we took our buckets to the ocean to fill them up with water. The waves were awfully harsh that day, but it didn’t phase us much. We got over the cold fairly quickly, and we don’t usually go out very deep anyhow. So, we filled up our buckets and ran back to make castles. We tried to perfect these little shell homes, although my son got frustrated and bored pretty quickly. So, he took off towards the water where he belonged.
My dad said, “don’t worry, he’ll probably find a friend to play with here”. Not quite sure why my father made that random statement, however it did make me think..and make me look around. My son didn’t have trouble making friends. I’ve seen him make friends with unknown children at parks and random places all of the time, but the beach was not one of them. That wasn’t because he couldn’t make friends here, it was because it was the one place that he didn’t need to. I looked around and tried identifying what children belonged to what parents. I was witnessing an epidemic of children that were genuinely happy with being by themselves. No electronics, no need for the pressures of making friends, no need for parents to constantly look for happiness in – just them and the water. The littler ones were content with sand castles, pails & buckets. The older ones were happy with blankets of saltwater rushing over them.
I watched my son as he sat in the wet sand with the edge of the waves circling around him. The formation of suds drifting from the ending waters and him sinking slightly deeper each swirl. He smiled, he giggled and his mind was running wild in day dreams. I was refreshed from witnessing such natural joy. Joy for being without dependency of others to give him this kind of happiness. It was beauty, it was bliss, it was innocence, it was nature and it was awakening the soul – both his and mine.