One of the perks of living on the west side is just how close we are to the beach, so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to take him to see the waves sooner. Either way, today he and I hung out at the beach, a mere 5 minutes away from work, and about 15 from home. I chose a spot that an old coworker had introduced me to a while back because during the week, it’s more or less empty and has tons of street parking.
Off we go, he with his sunscreen and sun hat, me armed with our picnic blanket. I sat him on my cross-legged lap and we were just staring out at the waves. He was curious, considering that everything around him—waves, sand, the salty air—was completely new.
After a few minutes of sitting, I carried him closer to the waves so that he could pat his little feet on the wet sand and maybe even feel the gush of cold water as the waves shored closer inland. But when I touched his feet on the sand, he started fussing and almost crying and was afraid of what the heck was going on. I tried carrying him while still letting his feet dangle so that he could still touch the ground, but even that was still scary. Soon enough he just started crying and was telling me, “Get me away from here!”
Once we got back to our blanket, I tried sitting him on my lap again, facing the waves, but he didn’t want that either. He wanted to keep hugging me, so I just held him close. I faced him towards land and away from the ocean, but he would still turn his head around to catch a peek at those mean, nasty waves making all those loud scary sounds. Sure enough, whenever one would come crashing down loudly, he’d turn his head back towards me and hug me tighter. Poor baby! But wow what a wonderful feeling to be able to “protect” him that way, and to see your son looking to you for comfort.
Eventually he got used to the waves and realized that they weren’t going to wash him away or whatever he was afraid of. He started watching everything else too: the people, the birds and the sand. Then once it was close to his nap time, I packed up and headed back home.
As adults, we take for granted all the things we know so well, such as the ocean. But considering the scene from a baby’s point of view, seeing the waves for the first time can be undoubtedly nerve-racking. He doesn’t know why these waves keep hovering high up only to crash down, and in a loud manner at that. And just how endless the ocean and the sand are—miles and miles of it ahead and to the left and right of us—whereas he’s used to the confines of walls or even the end of the grass in the park.
We’ll go back to the beach in the future, and hopefully he won’t see the waves as so menacing. But if he gets scared, I wouldn’t mind it either if he embraces me tighter so I could protect him from those big bad waves.