The Ocean Is Happy Today (Quality time, Spontaneity, Balance, Doing your part in a family)

It was a relaxed Sunday morning. No tennis lessons to teach. Nothing scheduled for her. Wide open with possibilities.

By the time she awoke and approached me at my desk, I was deep into writing one of several books I’m developing.

Her – “Can we go biking?”

Me – “Biking? Wow, you haven’t asked that for a while. Okay. Give me ten minutes.”

She sighed.

Me – “Well, I’m really into what I’m writing. Let me just finish up this part.”

Off she went.

About five minutes later, she plopped a folded piece of paper on my desk. It was a card. It said “I love you, Daddy” (though I think she accidentally wrote Sassy) and a picture from a couple years ago of the two of us biking to get a popsicle.

Me – “Aww, so sweet. It’s beautiful. And a picture of us biking. Did you make this to prompt me to get going?”

Her – “No, I made it because I love you.”

I smiled and hugged her.

Me – “Look at all of these things you’ve made for me.”

I pointed to all sorts of gifts from her on my desk and behind my desk, and those only accounted for about one fiftieth of the little gifts she has made for me over the years.

Me – “You’re so sweet to me with all of your gifts and love.”

She smiled.

I finished up my writing and off we went. Our idea had evolved into a bike ride to the beach, something we hadn’t done in a while, despite it being just a short ride away.

When we got there, I was surprised to see quite a few people in the water. Indeed, the cold months had passed.

Her – “Daddy, let’s make a sand castle!”

Me – “Hmm… I sort of want to put my feet in the water first.”

We walked to the water’s edge. I grinned at her and dove in.

Her – “Daddy, I don’t have a swimsuit on!”

Me – “So!”

In she dove.

The water was absolutely perfect. She stared out into the ocean and sky.

Her – “It’s beautiful.”

I was moved that she was present to that and that, even as a child, she appreciated it. In fact, it made me more aware of the beauty engulfing us.

Her – “Let’s take seven deep breaths.”

We did.

Her – “The ocean is happy today. Normally, it’s dark, but today it’s light. It must be happy.”

Indeed, the water was a soft turquoise.

Me – “It’s happy because you’re in it.”

She smiled.

The water was churning considerably which made it perfect for body surfing. We took full advantage of it for a good 45 minutes. With each arriving wave, she pointed and squealed in delight like she was three years old, “Daddy, Daddy!”

At one point, as she was singing songs from Disney’s ‘Moana,’ she called out to the ocean to send in big waves. Oddly enough, a series of big waves followed.

Me – “You’re powerful! You spoke to the ocean, and it listened. You’re the wave whisperer!”

She loved that idea and kept on calling them in.

I also used the opportunity in the ocean to talk with her again about rip tides and how to deal with it if you find yourself in one.

Eventually, I suggested we head home to get something to eat. To my surprise, she didn’t remember the sand castle idea. Maybe that’s because another idea had taken hold.

Her – “Daddy, can we go get an ice cream at the Orange Octopus? We haven’t done that in a while.”

Me – “We haven’t even had lunch yet.”

Her – “I know, but it’s Sunday.”

On this day, it seemed like good enough logic to me.

I had coordinated with our friend Deirdre for her next piano lesson. Deirdre taught her the start to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, my absolute favorite. I’m excited that I’ll be hearing her practice that for weeks.

Now, I always strive for a balance of me time and we time, so I worked on a playdate with her for the afternoon. She was delighted when one of the parents I tried called back saying that her daughter could come over.

Anticipating her friend’s arrival she paused and looked at me-

Her – “Thank you, Daddy.”

It was a win-win. I got back to work on one of my books while they played and then joined them in the pool at the tail-end.

The day was like being in a movie where one scene transitioned into another…

As her friend’s mom was preparing her daughter to leave, Nonna and Papa came in, bringing dinner.

When it was time to set the table, she resisted my mom’s request.

Her – “I don’t want to.”

She was tired, but that was not going to cut it for me. It’s a family, and we all need to pitch in. After a look of dissatisfaction that prompted her to head to the kitchen to get plates for the table, I followed her in and quietly added some words.

Me – “Listen, everyone around here does all sorts of generous things for you, every day, all day. I don’t want to hear that you don’t want to help out. We’re a family, and we all do our part. Got it?”

Her – “Yes, Daddy.”

After a delicious dinner, instead of letting everyone disperse into TV time I suggested to her that we play cards with Nonna and Papa. It was the first time we had done this and good fun. Nonna cleaned house, and I finished last.

Finally, her day ended with me reading her Harry Potter. After concluding the second chapter of Book 4, I prepared to turn off the light but first turned to her…

Me – “Let me see you.”

She looked into my eyes, and I looked into hers. It’s a simple way of connecting and being present that I like to do with her now and then.

With the light off, I asked her to name three things she was grateful for. She went through her day and came up with eight.

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