July 30, 2011
Day at the beach
When my kids were little, I’d take them over to Pretty Colour Lakes pretty often. We’d walk around the lake, eat a snack in the shade, and skip stones. On hot summer days, we’d wear bathing suits and spread an old sheet out on the beach. We’d build sand castles or dig holes that filled with water, or splash around in the warm, shallow water. Boy-in-Black used to try to catch one of the seagulls that swooped in to eat our leftovers, but he never did.
The beach is great for small children who are just learning to swim. People joke that the lifeguards there have any easy time: if a swimmer is in trouble, they just yell, “Stand up!”
During our recent heat wave, I picked Little Biker Boy up and took him to the beach. He’s ten, so I figured he is young enough to appreciate the shallow water. I thought it would be fun to build a sand castle. I haven’t built one in years.
Little Biker Boy did not want to build a sand castle. Or splash in the shallow water. Apparently, he’s too cool for that. Instead, we went to the pier that juts out into the lake, the one place where the water would be over his head.
Along the green metal railing, a crooked line of kids waited their turn to jump into the deep water. Most weren’t wearing bathing suits. Like Little Biker Boy, they were swimming in baggy shorts that threatened to fall off every time they jumped. None of them could swim very well: they’d land in the water, come up spitting water, and then doggy paddle their way over to the ladder. A patient teenager lifeguard in a red bathing suit kept a watchful eye as the kids teased and jostled each other.
We spent the next couple of hours jumping off the pier, swimming to the ladder, and then jumping off. Over and over and over again. Like the other kids, Little Biker Boy always looked a little terrified while he was in the water, but as soon as he was safely on the ladder, he’d begin bragging, “Did you see that? I got some air!”
I was about a foot taller (and maybe 40 years older) than anyone else in line: there were no parents in sight. After about ten jumps, I could feel that my sinuses were filling with water. So the next time, when I got up to the edge of the pier, I decided to dive instead. I didn’t do any kind of fancy dive. I just dove headfirst into the water, pretty much the way anyone in the world would. When I came up to the surface, I could hear Little Biker Boy’s voice.
“Sweet!” he yelled. “You know how to dive!” He sounded surprised. He nudged the kid next to him in line. “Did you see that?”
As I climbed up the ladder, the kids looked at me like I’d just done something amazing. The teenage lifeguard grinned at me. As I took my place in line, I felt like a celebrity.
Posted by jo(e)