Monday, September 19, 2005

Not What We Expected

Originally uploaded by Sharon Hurlbut.

Since it was the last weekend of summer, we went to the beach yesterday. We were there for a long weekend a few weeks ago and the girls had the best time ever. So yesterday we thought, let's grab our seashell buckets, hop in the car early, have breakfast on the way, and make it one last hurrah on the sand before Fall comes. It didn't quite work out that way.

Yes, the girls were excited. Eager even. Their buckets swung jauntily at their sides and we bought a brand-new field guide so we could identify all the things in the tidepools. But as we headed through the soft sand to the hardpacked layer by the water's edge, something happened. By some twist of the universe, the day turned, spinning instantly into fear instead of adventure.

Emma started screaming and crying that the waves were going to get her. This from a girl walking in loose, dry sand.

Then Kate stepped on a miniscule strand of dried seaweed and dissolved into tears, clinging to me like the most stubborn barnacle.

No amount of talking, reassuring, or explaining could relieve these irrational fears. For Emma's part, she's read a few too many science books and was certain a tsunami was going to spring on us at any moment and wash us away (thank goodness I never exposed her to any of the news about last December's horrific tsunami). Where Kate's fear of seaweed came from, I have no idea, though she was clearly feeding off Emma's emotions.

We didn't make it to the tidepools. We barely collected any seashells. Turning around almost the minute we got there, we stepped off the beach and into a few shops, then got back in the car and drove home. Emma got a book to read on the way, and Kate got a toy. They were as happy as could be. Dennis and I looked at each other and shrugged. It wasn't the day at the beach we had planned, but we were all together, and that was enough.


Patry Francis said...

Fears are so primal and powerful in both children and adults. Your children are so fortunate that theirs could be quelled by the safety of two loving parents, a toy and a book.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Yes, and our children are usually very logical and respond well to explanations, so this was strange for us. Of course, we're all dealing with the stress of transition since Emma started school two weeks ago, which may have been part of it. It was also high tide with the waves coming in quite strong, so next time we'll make sure to go when the tide is going out instead.