If you ever want to experience joy, take a trip to the beach and watch the children. I don’t know if I can recommend watching your own children. You probably have a lot invested in their safety and watching them can be quite stressful. Other people’s kids, however, are an absolute hoot.
Most kids are impervious to the discomforts of the beach. Kids will fall in the sand, dig in the sand, throw sand, eat sand, and do just about any other unspeakable thing with sand. They get it in their fingers, toes, mouths, bathing suits, butts, and eyes. They rarely seem bothered at all. When was the last time you felt so liberated? Do kids start as hobos and our job is to civilize them? I wonder if we go too far.
I watched a girl, about four, playing in the sand. She was arched forward with both her hands and feet in the sand, and began kicking her legs up and down driving her toes straight down into the sand. She wasn’t kicking up anything, nor pushing the sand back to make a hole. She was simply driving her toes down through the dry top sand into the firmer wet sand.
The first thing I noticed was how physically demanding this was. I could probably get about four reps in before my arms or thighs exploded. Yet she did it for about five minutes straight. I don’t think the toughest Pilates or Tae Bo class would include this torture. Hmm…side thought…HALF TAE BO AND HALF PILATES…PUNCHES PILATES – WASH YOUR HANDS OF UNWANTED FAT…Sorry. The thing is, this kicking action accomplished nothing other than to burn off energy. She may want to save some of that energy for middle age.
The little girl’s brother, maybe five, was fascinated by the movement of sand. First he knelt in the sand and alternately and rapidly flung sand using a windmill motion. It was never toward anyone, but after a few tosses, you’ve pretty much seen it all. He just kept going and going. He also picked up a shell and used it to scoop up sand. He would walk around filling it and dumping it as though he needed to even out the beach.
I recall being much more structured as a child at the beach. I dug tunnels constantly either for cars or water, and sometimes both. I also recall burying balloons to see how they would fare and even beach beetles to see how long it took them to dig themselves out. Maybe I should save this for my therapist.
My favorite kid was about two years old. He was playing in/falling in/covered with sand. At one point, he saw the ocean. Since this small pond took up 50% of the viewable range, I don’t know how he missed it earlier. He made a beeline for the surf, as fast and straight as possible. I must look up the origin of beeline as my experience has them flitting rather than going purposefully straight. He looked like he would make it, but his father took one stride for every five of Junior’s. Dad caught him as he plowed face first into the edge of a wave. He had up till then shown that he was unaffected by water, salt, sand, and cold. We should use toddlers in war. Please explain what makes Batman a superhero.
As his father blocked his access to the ocean, the kid began a sequence of evasive maneuvers that were fascinating to watch. To me, this was more bee-like. It wasn’t a pattern, but didn’t look exactly random either. It reminded me of an early video game. He would bounce about, changing direction when he got close enough for his father to grab him. His father only needed a step or two to the right or left to block him. It also looked inefficient since the kid was using more energy, particularly with the bobbing up and down while he ran. The thing is that the kid’s energy seemed unending and he had a spirit of purpose that Dad lacked. It might only be a matter of time.
I’d like to think he’d have made it eventually. After all, the Atlantic Ocean takes up nearly a quarter of the planet. My wife and I left but as we drove home I tried to remember the last time I rolled down a hill, skipped a rock, or watched the clouds. I think it’s time for grandchildren.
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