Photo: One of the few pictures I took of two little boys with my phone while on vacation. I sincerely tried my best to touch my phone only once a day. It was… impossible… but I made a really strong effort! Anyway, there are more on my good camera… I’ll share throughout the week.
Well, well, well… I’m back. Thank you for your patience as I got away.
And we really did get away. All the way down to the Outer Banks, my personal favorite vacation spot. This was my first time renting the house and going through the process. It was always my mom or someone in the generation above me doing the renting until now. To be clear, this vacation wouldn’t have been possible without the significant help of my family… but, I can still say that I did it. I freaking pulled this thing off, despite all that happened in the spring.
For those of you unfamiliar, the Outer Banks is a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina famous for lost colonies, ship wrecks, wild endangered horses, natural sand dunes, strong surf, and lovely houses. Pick your 5 favorite families, throw in some money, and rent a house together for a week. Add alcohol, good food, maybe some cards, a pool and the kids… and it’s a great time. I love it because it’s pure: going to the Outer Banks is about being at the beach. There is a lot to do there if you really must leave the beach, but the island is for beach lovers. It’s for people who don’t need much more than a thermal bag full of favorite libations, a big umbrella, a beach chair, a blanket and a book on the beach.
That being said: we spent almost the entire week in the pool.
My two boys spent hours and hours in that pool.
and you know what they did? They taught themselves how to swim.
I shit you not. That’s what happens when you give kids a safe space to experiment and explore. The pool was shallow enough that they could have fun and feel comfortable enough to get in, move around, float, kick, etc. The Husband and I marveled as the week went on and the boys became more and more confident in the water. By the time we got to Friday, Major was experimenting with free-style stroke and trying to coordinate his arms and his legs for movement. Minor was practicing handstands.
We spent hundreds of dollars last year on stupid in-town swim lessons that didn’t work! Minor was afraid to put his head under the water when we did lessons over the winter!
I’m reminded that the child’s brain is built for hands-on, low-pressure, self-paced experimentation and learning. The Sudbury Method, Waldorf Method and Montessori Method really do have merit! When kids are given safe places to experiment without a lot of interruption or intervention (unless sought), amazing things can happen. I gave my boys very few pointers on what to do. They figured out most of it on their own and together… they taught each other. It was marvelous. Sincerely worth every single penny and every ounce of stress to make it happen.
Don’t worry. I got to spend a bit of time at the beach. I didn’t push any agenda or feel the need to do anything, so I didn’t make myself get up for every sunrise. Just two. And they were glorious. I did some knitting, I read a great book and got halfway through another and started an audiobook while I was knitting. I made an Anglican rosary, which I really like. I prayed. I cried. I thought about Grandy. I thought about Father. I didn’t write a single word of fiction and didn’t feel guilty (until today). I had moments of silence and moments of roaring belly-laughter. I ate well and slept as best I could on a bed that wasn’t mine. I enjoyed my boys and took real care to see them and love them for who they are as they are in this precious moment in their lives. I watched them go from their winter-pale to their eggo-waffle toasted warm summer glow in a matter of days. I sang, danced, and sighed. It was good, so good, to unplug and have a real vacation.
That, by the way, is Grandy’s old beach blanket. I really do get to be with her wherever I go.
And now I’m back and plugging back in. But I’m going to be more thoughtful about it. I just unknotted a bunch of knots… I refuse to get back into this world without thought and without plan. I can’t sustain what I was doing before. What happens next isn’t clear yet… but it will be different because it must be. Thank goodness there is more summer for a different sort of pace and more space to breathe and think and speak with wiser people than I am. I look forward to solving all of my many problems before the school year starts again. 🙂 With the boys in camp from now until nearly the end of summer, that might actually be possible!
Hey Dear Reader… is your hand on the plow? Are you tending to your fire? Stay with me and breathe. Breathe. You are still here. You are still a light against the darkness.
Let’s have a great week together. Let’s get something done.
Until Wednesday, breathe.
and take care.