Tuesday, 19th of April, 2016
We discussed the evening before that we should get up in the morning and go to the beach. An unseasonable warm day was predicted and these are the best days to be on the beach, before the summer crowds arrive, we know on a day like this while school is still in, we have the beach to ourselves. This is most definitely a School of Love perk, that we are very grateful for. As I tucked Elle into bed, she requested that we make apple muffins to take with us. It was to be the warmest day of the year this far, and it had been many months since we had been to the shore. It takes 90 minutes to drive to the beach, which of course is a 3 hour round trip, so we do not do it very often.
The girls were both equally interested in a day by the sea. “What time do you think we will leave?” Maya asked as she sat at the kitchen bench eating breakfast. “Well I was thinking that I would sew a skirt before we go, so lets say 11am.” Maya rolled her eyes at me when I said this. A little smirk grew on my face because seeing this expression from her was perfect nine year old behaviour. It is funny when children turn nine, they suddenly know you. Maya and I have been living life together for nine years, and during this time she has had little opinion about me unless it relates directly to something I was requiring her to do, and now that she is nine I have become this person with a personality that she responds to. Maya’s separation and familiarity with my ways are heart warming, because it is a sign my girl is growing up. I do have a knack of slipping in a whole other activity before we commence an activity. “Hmmm…. 1 hour, let me see what I can do?”
Elle had baked apple muffins for breakfast, as intended (with a little help from me) and as soon as we were done eating them we all went about filling in the time. I had written out the girls spelling lists for the week, and as I turned to a new double page, I noticed we were at week 33. “Well look at that, 33 weeks into our school year.” I said to myself. I am glad I started writing this at the top of the double pages each week because the weeks really do go by and it is satisfying to see that we stick with our work, week after week. There is something to be said for routine and work discipline. It is rewarding.
I noticed also that Maya has started adding colourful floral flourishes to all of her pages and I was very impressed with the care she takes to make her book beautiful and personalized. I flipped through the pages looking at the different decoration she was giving her pages each week, I noticed that she had been leaving out 25% of her required work. Just a little here and there, but I could see a pattern that needed to be corrected. With her book in hand I walked up the stairs to her bedroom, where she was busy reading the You Know Who Wizard book series. “Maya, I need to talk to you about your work, is now a good time or shall we do it later?” I said. Maya got a cross look on her face, and grunted at me. “Later.” She said sounding exasperated. I raised my eyebrows, but since I had given her the option, I abided. As I started to walk away, she reconsidered and in a frustrated voice said, “Ok now then!” I stopped on the stairs and turned back into her room. Sitting down on her bed I could tell she did not want to listen to what I was going to say. “Maya, can you see how hard I am trying to treat you with respect?” Maya loosened up a little with my mature discourse. “Well, I noticed today, that you have been leaving out a little of your work each week.” I turned the pages, pointing at numbers and answers not filled in. “Lets look together and count all the weeks you have left out a paragraph. This bothered Maya very much, and she threw her self face down on her bed. “Well, you don’t need to feel badly, don’t be hard on yourself, but you know I set you a small amount of work, and this is our deal, that you do this every day.” I was very pleased with myself for being calm and gentle, but firm. “You are going to have to play catch up. You have left out 5 paragraphs, and so for the next week you are going to have to do two per day.” It was just one of those life lessons: what you put off today, you will just have to do tomorrow. Maya still seemed annoyed with me rather than sorry she hadn’t done her work, so I felt I had to add, “If you are not able to understand this with my explanation, then I will share this with Dada and he can talk to you about it.” Maya shook her head, letting me know, she understood and she did not want Cam involved and that would do she through her commitments.
With School of Love morning session over, I headed up the stairs to sew a skirt. I am not sure why, but off I went like a rocket. Zoom! At a furious speed I was cutting fabric and sewing. I was in fast forward and it was all doing well… until I made a mistake. “Ahh… Why did I sew a hem on that side? Oh goodness, I was not paying attention.” The mistake felt like a set back within such tight time constraint.
The period in which to sew was ticking by at such a speed that I needed the girls to help get us ready to go. “Maya” I hollered from the attic, “Can you please pack our lunch?” Maya stopped reading and realised that if were going to actually get to the beach today, she would have to help, because it appeared I was going to sew and sew and sew until we walked out the door. “Do you think you can hard boil some eggs?” I called out. Maya was not sure if she could, so I gave her instructions. “Fill the little red pot half full, pace two eggs gently into the cold water, make sure the water covers them, when the water boils, turn off the heat. Then put the timer on and let them stand for 12 minutes with the lid on.” I could hear Maya doing as I asked, and I felt a lovely warmth inside. “Ah, nine is so good.” I thought to myself. “A nine year old can cook!”
With Maya taking care of our lunch, I rummaged around for the quick unpick to undo the hem I had just sewn. It was taking all my might not to just cut the fabric shorter instead of unpicking. Thankfully my best inner self was present. “Kirsten, you know unpicking is no different from sewing, it is all part of the journey. Mistakes are just another part of the story.” I savored it all enough to unpick a huge length of fabric, and in fact, it all ended up feeling cathartic, but then I realised enough was enough. “You are trying to do a lot very quickly, do you really need to sew this skirt before you go to the beach?” It is always good to talk to yourself because then you will help yourself figure out just why you are doing what you are doing and if it all actually makes sense. “Well, I want to experience a homemade skirt on the beach.” I told myself. There had been an imagination floating around that involved me feeling very pleased with myself for sewing more clothes. I am not really sure why I needed a homemade skirt on the beach so precisely on this day, but I did, so there I was, trying to sew a skirt before we left. I sat there for a moment longer, unpicking the thread, thinking to myself. “Well, why don’t you wear a skirt that you have already sewn?” It really is great when you can talk sense into yourself! “Ah, that’s a good idea!” I said, then just like that I stopped sewing and went down stairs and put on a skirt I had made for myself this time last year. Life is funny. It seems I had to get a little sewing out of my system.
When I went into the kitchen Maya had packed our picnic, complete with two hard boiled eggs for me. Then everything snapped together in my mind. “Ahh, so that is why I have to occupy myself with single-minded focus, so that Maya has to get us ready.” It all made perfect sense. I am there to direct, but I when I am so caught up in my own activities, the girls get to experience their capabilities. It is a proud mother that walks downstairs to a thoughtfully packed picnic lunch.
So we loaded up the car with our basket and towels and off we went.
I truly wish I were better at listening to the GPS directions, and no one will be surprised to hear I missed the beach turn off. I was singing a song to the radio (often I car dance too) and I was having such a nice time that I just drove right past the exit. I will be very glad when I live somewhere I do not need instructions on how to get to the beach. The case is however was not entirely because I often miss turn offs, it was in part fate. You see, as I programmed the chosen destination for the day, I heard an inner voice say “You know what, I think you should go a little further south today.” I heard that inner voice, but it was right as I was programming the address I had just looked up, and I did not feel like looking up another address further south, so I just pretend to ignore that inner voice. Then, when I missed the turn off, I said, “Well ok universe, I am listening now. I missed the turn off so it looks like we are going further south after all!” Anyway, once again, I was realizing, no mistakes, just another part of the story.
As it tuned out, we went to a nicer beach than we had ever been before.
Rows of perfect east coast wooden beach house sat along the shore like pretty packages. Each unique, but with a box like unison. I was a little confronted by the wealth, but as Cam always reminds me. “Some people have lots of money.” I always wonder why it is only “some people” but when I work that out, I think I will have the answer to one of life’s biggest mystery. That aside, it was time to enjoy a perfect day, I truly perfect day.
The sun was a warm 27C/78F and there was the softest breeze making the air feel fresh and lively but not cold. We choose a spot and in the blink of an eye, Elle dashed to the tide line to dip her toes. We were not sure if it was actually going to be warm enough to play in the water even though it was predicted to be. Sometimes the beach can be cold if a breeze is blowing off the cooler water and so Maya had decided to wear comfortable clothes, and bring her swimmers just in case. We were there only a little while, and she decided she wanted to join Elle playing in the water and that she wanted to put on her bathing suit. Maya is a modest nine year old and while she was happy to strip off on the beach, she wanted to do it in such a way, that no passers-by would see her bare bottom. With her shirt pulled down low, she removed her nickers and just as I was helping her place her feet into her bathing suit a man walked over to us. I was completely unaware of his approach, but suddenly, there was a man standing ever so close.
He was a fully grown man, a little older than myself, perhaps 50. He had a head of dark hair, and he was shirtless with a round shiny belly. “Hi there,” he said, as he stood by our blanket. “I saw you had a camera, can I take some photos for you?” Maya froze like a scared fawn. My darling modest Maya. I could see the worry on her face as she stood there without pants on trying to keep her shirt pulled down low. It was a very awkward moment, I wanted to be polite to this man, but I needed him to leave so that Maya could get dressed. I forced a smile onto my face, and in a rather short manner in order to shoo him off as quickly as possible for Maya’s sake, I said “Oh thank you for offering, but it is ok.” He put both his hands up in the air, as if to indicate peace ma’am, “No worries,” he said, “It is such a beautiful day, I just thought you might like a photo together.” His face looked crest fallen at my reaction and he turned and left just as quickly as he arrived.
I helped Maya into her bathing suit as swiftly as possible and she ran off into the water to join her sister. I sat on the towel looking around the beach. There were very few people. Us, the man who had just walked over to speak to us, and some builders working on new beach entrance stairs.
There is still so much work being completed post Hurricane Sandy and a team of workmen were diligently and skillfully rebuilding. All the beach houses lining the shore look so fresh. I can only imagine the billions of dollars insurance has paid out to make these mansions perfect again. There is perfect fresh laid turf as far as the eye can see like green blankets laid over sand.
Whilst watching the girls play, I started thinking about the man who had come over offering to take photos. I don’t know why I gave it a second thought, but I did. I felt bad that I had said no to him in such a short way, because I could tell he just wanted to do something kind and thoughtful. Sometimes, letting someone do something for you, helps them. I know it does not make sense, but sometimes letting someone help even if you don’t want their help, allows them to grow… yes, it is a bit like being a mother.
I decided that I would go over and tell him that I would like to take him up on his offer after all. He saw me walking towards him, and he jumped up like a happy dog would if it knew you were going to play stick. Some people just have this disposition, always eager and ready to jump. I am a bit like that myself. I could tell then that he was an intuitive helper. He bounded over to me, and as we stood there on the sand together, we started talking. “I am sorry, but when you came over before, I was helping my daughter put on her bathing suit, and it gave her a fright to have a stranger standing her as she was trying to get dressed.” An embarrassed expression appeared on his face, but I could also see he appreciated my explanation, because it explained why my face had likely looked strained when he approached. “Oh my god!” He said, “I had no idea.” I could tell he was completely innocent in his approach to us, it was purely bad timing. “I know,” I said, “I could tell you didn’t see, but I had to just give you a short answer no, so that my daughter felt comfortable.” I said. We both laughed about it a little, making light of the odd situation. I am so very aware of people’s feelings. Even when a random stranger walks up to me on the beach, and I wanted this man to feel good about being kind, not sit there wondering why a woman had given off such an intense vibe.
As I handed him my camera, I moved in a little closer to give him instructions on how to use it. In the same way one catches the scent of a flower, I could smell alcohol. There was no fear or reservation in me at all for this realization, he reminded me of an old fisherman I once lived with in Alaska. My heart opened for him a little more, and if you could imagine love like a soft wispy blue cloud, I enveloped him in my sentience. It was a little after midday, on Monday, and this man’s blood had alcohol in it, enough that you could smell it through his skin. It is perhaps not accurate, but I felt like putting my hand on his shoulder, and asking him gently if he was an alcoholic? The world is not yet like this though and instead, I smiled with kindness and left him with my camera and went to join the girls playing in the sand.
For a good while he sat taking photos of us, like he genuinely enjoyed it. He did not feel voyeuristic, or a man of misplaced love, which is how I think of those that are overly attracted to young girls – and something I will speak of further down the track. He felt like a person that just wanted to be useful, helpful and appreciated. He was sitting at a fair distance, and to be honest, I was able to forget he was even there. Which is another interesting thing in itself.
After a little while, Maya said, “The man has been taking photos a long time.” and I said, yes, you are right. Maya’s awareness was more acutely tuned as she had been given a fright by him. With Maya’s prompting I went over and said thank you to him. Instantly he jumped up off the sand with repeat quickness and enthusiasm. “There you go girl, there’s some photos for you.” He said, handing me back the camera.
With as much sincerity as it is possible to give another with words alone, I said, “Thank you very much, I really appreciate it.” I beamed all the respect and compassion possible through my eyes. I really tried to see him. It has to be pure you know, straight from your heart. Through your face, communicating love.
Thank you for reading Magnesium Blue