I just returned from a week at the beach with friends. It was a repeat of a trip we took together in 2007…same people, same house (aptly dubbed Happy Times), same beautiful views. We looked at pictures of our 2007 trip and noticed: We are four years older… which, to the adults, seems like no time at all. (Some of us even recognized hats and bathing suits that made encore appearances at the beach). However, 2-year-olds have transformed into 6-year-olds and those who were merely 6 have suddenly become 10. The youngest will be starting kindergarten, while three will be ending their elementary school days in a few short months. Our list of Things to Bring in 2007 included strollers, play-doh and highchairs. This year we had to discuss ahead of time whether we’d be allowing iTouches, texting, DS games or the Wii. (We decided, with the kids’ leadership, that none were needed at the beach). Last time, we had to consider diapers, water wings and naptimes. This time, we could watch from afar as six children moved as a herd between riding the waves, digging holes, building sprawling fantasy forts in the sand, throwing their lines into the creek and pulling back fish after tiny fish, digging for clams, making tie dye and chocolate moustaches, playing board games and foosball, preparing their own snacks and trekking back to the waves to do it all over again.
They were a sight to behold.
Sometimes we joined them in their adventures. Sometimes we buried ourselves in those rarefied times called Reading for Pleasure. Sometimes we reconnected with spouses and treasured friends with whom we never have enough time to converse. We took naps, we slept until we woke naturally in the morning, sans alarm clocks or rushes to feed rapidly melting children. (They made their own breakfasts!) We took long walks. It was an entirely different experience from 2007, so much better in some ways, but one that tugged on the old heartstrings too. We understood with each memory shared, each tradition relived, that we are moving ever farther away from those little kid days we used to know. It is such a rich season though. It’s a wonder to experience their independence – which brings us greater independence as well – while still enjoying their need for us. We loved the glimpses of who they are becoming. Who will be the entertainer, who will be the leader, who will be the mother hen, who will be the outdoorsman, who will be the creative one? They reveled in the freedoms afforded to them. They smiled big smiles. They gave us beautiful views.