Just keep swimming

We travelled last week to Isle of Palms outside of Charleston, SC for our annual Shaylor family beach trip. We were lucky enough to get to all stay together in a house right on the beach that also had it's own pool, which was really awesome. As a child we did this for a week every summer. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from going to this island, playing for hours in tidepools. Dripping wet sand all over my grandmother's feet, eating homemade peach ice cream, swimming in the ocean. Running free over the sand. But the beach there is no longer the beach of my childhood. The constant crash of the waves has worn it down, changed it. In fact, at high tide, there is practically no beach at all. The tidepools that I loved so much as a kid were no longer there. That is, of course, what the ocean does - it is an unstoppable force for change. Everything, all of us included, are changing all the time. Morphing into new versions of ourselves.

Gus is so fully himself. I am absolutely in awe of it. It makes me wonder if I was ever like that. I'm not sure I was. I try to always be my most authentic self, but I find it quite difficult. Sometimes I don't have any clue where to even start being Me. Time and the tide have left their mark. Gus on the other hand, has no idea how to be anything but. He doesn't know yet that there is any other option than for him to be completely himself, all the time. I love it. My most fervent hope is that I never do anything to screw that up. That I can always support him of course, but also get out of the way so he can go on being himself.

I think he may be part fish. (Also part dog. But that one I've known for a while.) I knew he loved the water, he always has. But this past week I was amazed. This kid isn't even two and he can pretty much swim. He is fearless. He jumps right in. What's more, he stays underwater with his eyes wide open and a giant smile on his face as he's swimming. It's really kind of unbelievable.

Every morning when I'd go in his room he'd sit up and say, "Beach!" Out in the ocean, he kept wanting to go further and further past the breakers, asking for bigger and bigger waves, all the while swimming out of our arms saying "Fish, Fish, Fish." I wish I had that kind of confidence. I wish I were that fearless. I know that we will have to teach him a healthy respect for water, especially the ocean, but there's time for that when he is a little bit older. Right now we are obviously going to be right with him anytime he's in the water. Right now, I don't want to do anything to stifle his audacious spirit.

On top of being so fearless, Gus also just really digs life. He is so happy all the time. He really LIVES every minute. He is my little extraverted party animal. He loves everybody. In fact, sometimes he loves a little too persistently - in the form of hugging. He loves to give hugs. To dogs, his cousins, friends, strangers, it doesn't matter. Sometimes he doesn't realize he's bigger than those he's hugging, or that perhaps not everyone wants a hug all the time. That's another challenge for me. Sometimes other parents aren't so keen on Gus' over-eager cuddling. But I really don't want to discourage him from being loving and effusive. He's a toddler. He's all emotion and impulse. All he knows is that he has a lot of love to give and by golly, he's going to give it! In this world, how can that be wrong?

I hope that Gus will always feel comfortable being his most true self. With us and also out in the world. His experiences in life will shape and change him of course, just as surely as the ocean shapes the beach. But I hope that he will be able to not be pulled completely under, beaten down, when a huge wave comes at him. Or at least that he'll be able to come up mostly unflustered, and take a breath, ready for the next wave and the next one and the next one. I hope he will always be able to keep swimming.

1 comment:

Donna Munoz said...

Beautiful Gus! I can feel him--like a breath of fresh air. I love unexpected hugs--they remind me of unconditional love.