To be honest, I didn't want to go. We had just finished two straight days of rain and this was supposed to be a beach party? On the first day of March? I didn't want to drive for an hour just to follow the boy around making sure he didn't drown or break something. I thought I just didn't have it in me.
But the boy (and baby girl) wanted to go. We complain all the time about how we are never invited to birthday parties and outings and playdates, and here is a family reaching out to us. A little girl who (continually) reaches out to Jack and, truly, loves him. I would be the biggest hypocrite in the world if I cancelled.
So we dressed (it was a 50s theme beach party), loaded up the car and headed to Malibu.
The party started nicely. We had some food. We had some drinks. Jack interacted with his peers. He even took (and enjoyed) the Hula lesson. And he asked me over and over again if he could go down to the beach. And it was finally time.
Now, for those of you not familiar with Southern California beaches, Malibu is a bit different. It's not a huge expanse of sand and sunbathers. There is a little bit of sand, and lots of rocks. Lots of tidepools. Usually overcast. And tons of surfers.
So we made a break for the small stretch of private beach owned by the family that owned this particular house. At first, Jack was a little obsessive helping some other (older) boys clear the seaweed from a path that led to the water. They gave him a shovel... enough said.
Then Jack (and his mom) went to the shoreline... leaving the din of the party behind.
Perhaps leaving the din of life behind as well.
And Jack did what so many seeking solace have done before. He stared at the sea.
Mom and I took turns showing Jade things in the tidepools and playing in the sand. The other was able to socialize with the other adults and kids at the party.
The whole time Jack stood motionless... hypnotized by the motion of the sea.
And Jack watched. I tried a few times to engage him. I asked him if he wanted to see the starfish or crabs that littered the rocks. He politely declined. He told me he wanted to be alone.
And I obliged.
And he stared for around 45 minutes... a lifetime for an ADHD child.
And he stared and thought and thought and stared.
Jack loves the water, from the ocean to the bathtub. From the rain to a waterfall. He loves the simplicity. He loves the repetition. He loves the expanse. He loves the embrace.
I imagine he stared off thinking of faraway lands and adventures. I imagine he thought of all the animals that live in the sea and their stories. I imagine he thought of all the men that had stood in that very same spot over thousands of years staring at that very same sea. I imagine he thought of the women pacing the beach waiting for their husbands to return.
And, for some strange reason, I imagine he thought of home.
45 minutes is a long time to be silent and stare at the sea... it's even longer to be silent and stare at someone staring at the sea.
Jack finally broke his silence and informed he wanted to learn to surf. I told him we could look into it. There was an impending silly string fight that was being prepped.
He participated, engaged, interacted, and thrived. He went upstairs to sing happy birthday, eat cake, open presents and play minecraft with another boy. And he was great. And he had fun. And he belonged.
While the silly string fight ensued, I stole a moment to myself and tried it.
I stared at the sea. I thought of all the chaos and energy of life. All the activity of the world behind me.
And I did what so many before me had done. I stared at the sea...
And in that brief moment, just once, just for a second, it all went away.
It was immaculate. It was celestial. It was providence.
And for the first time in what seems like years...
I got it.