The drive home was silent, with the exception of an occasional yawn of exhaustion. The week had rushed past in a flurry of wonderful and intriguing events. Luke, our three-year-old son, was asleep in his car seat with suitcases on both sides of him and a little wooden train in each hand. Since my husband Josh was driving I spent my time reflecting on what I had experienced while at the beach. I knew that Luke’s first trip to Morehead City, North Carolina would be memorable, but I had no idea that he would teach me so much. My motive for taking Luke to see the ocean was for his benefit, but the amazement that he demonstrated over the smallest things showed me all that I had taken for granted.
The drive down Interstate-40 had been filled with an incessant string of, “Where are we going?”, “Are we going to the beach?” and “Are we there yet?” Luke seemed concerned that we may change our minds. I knew the bridge crossing the inlet was approaching so I grabbed the camera to capture Luke’s first impression of the “big water”. His expression was one of utter amazement as his eyes darted from window to window to drink in the vast blueness. “Wow! That’s a big yoshun!”
Within minutes we pulled into the parking lot of the motel. We grabbed our bags and walked to our room. It was average-sized, with teal walls and white, wicker furniture. We reserved a double-bed room so Luke could have his own full-size bed. I showed him where he would be sleeping and he gasped with glee at his very own “big boy bed”. He scrambled onto it, rolled around on the covers and bounced on the mattress a few times before exclaiming, “I want to go swimming!
I rummaged through our beach gear, slathered sunscreen on every inch of Luke’s body and then we headed for the sand. We turned the corner of the motel and Luke screamed in delight as he picked up speed. His bright green eyes were examining something and I followed his gaze to see an abandoned sandcastle. Before I could stop him, Luke raced to it and crashed into the highest tower. The structure toppled around him and he giggled at the new sensation of sand on skin. “Look at the sand, Mommy!” His awe at something so simple puzzled me, and I considered the delight in his voice. Luke finally noticed the big blue ocean behind him and he jumped to his feet and sprinted to the water, but just as he approached, a wave crashed onto the sand and Luke scurried to my side.
“But Luke, it’s just water.” Josh explained as he splashed his feet into the retreating current. Luke sidled toward him and stuck his feet in the water. He spotted another wave and ran back to me. He loved swimming pools and bathtubs, but this experience was altogether different. Swimming pools did not chase him. After several advances and retreats, Luke was comfortable enough to splash in knee-deep water. He squealed at the sand running between his toes and gaped at the minnows darting back and forth. Were these real fish swimming around his ankles? The only fish he had known before were in big display tanks, or his own black Beta named Sishy.
Just then, a tiny tan crab flashed by in the nearby sand. “What’s that, Mommy?”
“That’s a crab, sweetheart.” I did not realize Luke had never watched a crab scuttle sideways. He stumbled after the crab, tripping over the mounds of sand. Yet the crab returned to its hole just in time, and Luke proceeded to throw sand into its home in hopes to scare it out. However, it did not surface again and the sandcastle we had started quickly distracted him. All afternoon he played in the sand and in the shallow surf until he was bent with exhaustion and even then he refused to leave the fun to go back to the room. We bribed him into leaving with promises of returning in the morning and proceeded back to the room where he fell asleep within minutes of a warm bath and a slice of pizza.
As the events of the trip drifted away, my focus returned to the car and I peered out of the window at the brilliant blue sky. White puffy clouds were drifting by and I tried to think of how Luke would react to their splendor. I smiled as I glanced back at him, still sound asleep with his trains clutched in each tiny fist. I wondered what he may be dreaming of and wished I could peer into his thoughts to watch his excitement and wonder over the simple things of life.