I was at Venice Beach on the 4th of July and heard "Behind the Silence" or whatever that stupid Depeche Mode song is called, and thought, "And now my trip to Venice is complete. J. will remember this day forever." (Actually, he probably will: it was his first time playing in the ocean and he went batshit crazy. He LOVED it.)
When Patrick had said he wanted to take J. to the beach, I thought he meant, to walk around on the boardwalk and look at all the crazy people. It was only when we got to the sand and he started heading to the water that I realized he wanted to take our kid into the ocean. I had to stop so we could talk about it. I said, "I'm kind of freaking out right now about this." I said, "You need to be in charge, here." I said, "Don't you take your eyes off him or let go of his hand, EVER."
These were strong words even for me, and Patrick's no dummy (after 15 years of marriage he totally gets when I'm scared), and he retreated a little: he said, "We don't have to go today." I said, "No, we can go, just know that I'm worried."
Why so much worry? I remember being about 15 or 16, playing in the water with my friends, turning my back to the ocean like an idiot, and getting totally wiped out, flattened, tumbled, and flopping up on the beach many yards from my original starting point, breathless and blind (my glasses were somewhere on the beach with my stuff, and my friends, who were nowhere to be found for what felt like forever but was probably only about 15 minutes). It scared the shit out of me. I'm sure that other people who wear glasses are safe in the ocean but I am not one of them. And that experience was not one I will ever forget. Patrick, who grew up boogie boarding and body surfing (and he wears glasses, too) in Venice Beach (without a history of eye/ear infections or gangrene) is a much stronger swimmer (much stronger, in general) than I am, but I sometimes worry that in his efforts to make things "fun" for J., neglects some of the safety precautions I would take. This is, I think, the difference between lots of mamas and daddys.
Anyway, Patrick did everything right, and J. loved his time in the ocean, and we will be sure to get him to (perhaps cleaner) beaches again soon. But that's not what this post was supposed to be about:
There is something about that song, and that place. It just seemed right, hearing it. I heard it as we were walking back up the boardwalk to Rose Ave. to my mother-in-law's house, and it hit me in the head, via my ears, like a brick. Maybe because my experiences at Venice beach were mainly in high school, when that song was new (me, too). Maybe because my experiences at Venice beach were mostly unpleasant. Anyway, going there with Patrick, who lived six blocks from there practically his whole life until we got married, and exudes Venice cool, and my toddler, who couldn't be cool if he tried, was totally awesome. J. had to be physically picked up so we could go home! After about an hour of jumping and splashing and having what we suspect was the time of his life! Patrick said, "I wonder if he will dream about this?" Who knows?
The kid loves the water. Me, I got in the ocean up to my ankles, felt the pull as each wave reversed it's way back out, and remembered that it's not my job to transfer my fears to my kid: it's my job to make him feel safe in the world, and to ensure that he is. I'm trying, sweetie. I really am.