In my quest to wear out my boys as much as possible this summer, I've chosen a few hours at the beach as the easiest and most heat friendly spot. In past years, my time at the beach was spent straddling the beachline where the surf meets the sand. J has always been a water lover and as a toddler would literally throw himself in the waves. (Much to my horror! I had many a terrible vision of my baby being sucked out into the ocean by a wave.) B on the other hand has been a bit more cautious and, up until this summer, usually lasted at the beach for about 15 minutes. He never really seemed interested in the water. So there I would stand to my right, screaming at J not to go any further out; to my left, screaming at B that he stay closer to the water and not run into the path of a beach driving car. Yes, you can say I've been dreaming of this day and it has finally arrived.
All three of us out in the surf, the boys working themselves out silly on their boogie boards. And myself staying cool here in purgatory Florida by being in the water. I am thrilled.
We've also been priveledged to some awesome sightings. The other day we watched a school of dolphins play just off the edge of the water. We also had the normal spottings of crabs and small fish. However Tuesday...we hit the jackpot. Tuesday we swam with the rays.
Actually, at first glance the large shadow in the water sent my girlfriend and I racing out of the water with the kids (yes sharks do hang out in this neck of the woods). We decided we'd see if the large shadow snacked on anyone in the area (surf school was going on next to us). After a few minutes we noticed that one woman (who had the same response to the shadow as we did) was slowly creeping back into the water and bringing her children with her. It seemed safe. So we headed back out and I made a comment about the big swimming shadow. To which she replied, "Oh, they're rays...they don't have stingers and they are very docile."
Okay, I thought, rays..people pay good money to swim with the rays. Before I could fully wrap my head around the concept of swimming with the rays, I turned around and lo and behold, there they were...about a dozen, two foot rays swimming right at us. But I hadn't had time to asses how I felt about swimming with the rays. Even if it was free...was it truly safe? My boys began clutching my arms and trying to climb me like a junglegym. What to do? One cannot move quickly in the waist deep ocean with almost 100lbs of kids stuck to you. What to do? Boy do those ray things swim quickly...(actually they really do look like they are flying).
Now I try my best never to show unecessary fear in front of my children. The last thing I want is kids who are afraid to go in the ocean. I've been working on a lot of mind over matter in the last few years, i.e. picking up frogs, lizards...still not good on snakes. So here I am ...am I scared? or can I dig down deep and find the beauty in the here and now.
I fell somewhere in between. I heard myself say, "LOOK, LOOK AT THE RAYS! HOW COOL IS THAT! HOW AMAZING!" The reason for the caps is because the voice I heard was foreign...it was a high-pitched, loud, squeaky scream coming from my throat...generated by a mother trying to calm her children while also attempting to squelch her raw fear of the unknown.
In the end it truly was an awesome experience. I'm still not convinced that they aren't bait for sharks...the info on the internet says tiger sharks prey on them...my hubby says we don't have tiger sharks here....hmmmm....ignorance can be bliss, right?