Memorial Day 2016, Parenting, Gorillas
Today we chose to honor those who gave it all for our freedom by being free. We took a true holiday. We decided to head to the beach. A favorite beach that Ryan and I have frequented so many times. It's affectionately called 'Taco Bell Beach' because a Taco Bell sits right on the sand just a few yards from where waves are crashing on to the shore.
In our younger years a trip to this beach took very little effort up front, toss a couple of things in a backpack and grab a towel as we head out the door. Today, I appreciate all the effort my hubby put in to make sure our little tribe was comfortable and well prepared for a day at the beach. Normally, I do all the upfront planning a packing for outings and Ryan loads my prep into the car. Not today. I literally rolled out of bed, got myself, and only myself, ready and hopped into an already packed car. Today was a vacation day for me, apparently. I love my guy.
Here is our beach front home for the day thanks to all the effort of Ryan and the kids. I thought Mother's Day was at the beginning of the month? I loved this day.
At some point the littles began singing a little ditty that they wrote about being at the beach that included the lyrics, "I've got sand in my crack." I believe it was meant to be the chorus. It was poorly written and torturous to my ears. I turned a deaf ear to this jingle at the time but didn't forget my angst. Like Mary, the mother of our Lord, I pondered these things in my heart. Unlike Mary, I unleashed my pent up distress upon my children in traffic on the way home. Ryan and I sang a dramatic duet of the Chicago song 'Hard to Say I'm Sorry.' Then we threw in some NSYNC with boy band hand motions, and few Mariah Carrey high notes for good measure. We are old enough to use music against them at a multigenerational level.
Side note: The children end up winning the 'how to be most annoying with music contest' when Zane (so I'm told), the defector from One Direction came on the radio. Wow. Young man. Have you learned nothing from your fellow British predecessors, The Beatles? If you want to sing about something explicit, dirty McNasty, try masking it with subtle yet clever lyrics set to great music. Every kid deserves the opportunity to look back on their childhood and gasp, "I had no idea it was about that!" We had to change your song before all innocence evaporated from our car. You, sir, need a role model. Good day. And now I feel very old. Or like a mom or something. Thanks.
My favorite moment of the day is pictured here.
Tyler, 4 as I write, crawled into my lap to get warmed up in the sun with me when a breeze picked up. Shortly after this he and I end up taking a long walk together, just us.
When I look at my kids I am often struck by how big they are. By how I seem to blink and there they are reaching a new milestone. Today standing beside the vast ocean, toes deep in sand that would stretch miles and miles beyond where we stood, I saw Tyler's smallness. My mere 5'3" frame seemed to hulk over him. His gate much quicker than mine to match my stride. His chin pointed toward the light and wispy sky to look full at my face.
He is so little. So very tiny. Curious about everything. Bending down to turn over stones, gather a treasure, feel the difference between wet and dry sand with his fingertips. Good thing the ground isn't too far off for him, since he is constantly exploring it. He had so much to show me and things that needed to be saved in the bucket we brought along. He has only been on this planet four years. He is so interested. Excited.
There are times I get exasperated with childishness. This very day, while relaxing on the beach, Tyler came to me with a feather in his hand. He brought it toward my face, I thought to give me a closer look at his newly found prize. Trustingly, I leaned toward him to see. He, my son, shoved that sandy feather right in my unexpecting mouth.
I began spitting and sputtering and crying out to the heavens, 'Why! Why!' Ryan, trying to hold back his laughter at my full distress, replied in the most serious voice he could muster, "You know why." (It's a line we often quote to each other at opportune times. It's from a movie, but I can't remember which one.)
I do know why. He is little. Clearly, he is running experiments on me. He is running little experiments on the whole world. He is small and so childish. Curious. He tries stuff out without thinking it all the way through. He doesn't always listen. He needs to not sing about sand in his crack (in all fairness the older kids brought that fun idea to his attention). He needs to not shove feathers into mouths. Truly. He needs to know all this. I need to help him learn. He is little and I'm his mom.
In the news this weekend is another mom. She has a four year old son too. He is also running experiments on the whole wide world. He got it in his head that he wanted to play in the water and so he did. Unfortunately, the water he wanted to play in was in the gorilla pen at the zoo. Thankfully, he was rescued. Sadly, it was at the expense of the gorilla's life. So, so sad.
But for the grace of God, go I. Meaning, that could have been me. I'd like to think that I would never, ever, ever let Tyler fall in a pit of gorillas. I'm a good mom. But then, there I was sitting on the beach with a feather in my mouth. That little ball of free will shoved a dirty feather right in my pie hole and I never once saw it coming.
The unthinkable can happen right under our noses. That fellow mom gets no judgment from me. I wasn't there. Even if I was there, I would be too busy trying to keep my own brood managed that I wouldn't have time to judge her parenting.
I hope she has family and friends rallying around her. I prayed for her tonight. Parenting is hard. So hard. I'll bet she had planned to have some fun with her kids this holiday weekend. I'll bet that's why they were at the zoo. She wanted to enjoy her people, like I wanted to enjoy mine. So sorry for the turn of events. So glad her little one is safe.
Another Side Note- A couple of years ago a toddler gorilla died at the zoo nearest me, the San Francisco zoo. It was crushed to death by a door, like a garage door. It happened only a short while after I had taken my own kids to the zoo. We saw that little gorilla playing; it was the highlight of our trip. I cried when I read of the accident. It seemed so senseless. Garage door sensors are very common technology and, it seems to me, could have prevented the death of this animal. Animals in zoos are dependents. They need to be safe with us. I don't doubt that the Cincinnati zoo made the right call in putting the gorilla down for the life of the child. Obviously, they need to rethink their barriers, for the safety of humans and animals. Anyhow, life is sometimes lost in accidents. It's sad, horrible even, but not intentional. This was an accident. Lessons will be learned all around.
I hope you were able to spend some precious moments with people you love over the weekend. If nothing else, I hope in your thoughts of Memorial Day you remembered how fragile and precious life is. Freedom comes at a high price. I am so thankful to those who paid. Life is sometimes lost in accidents. It is also sometimes given, a sacrificial gift. This weekend we remembered that. We are grateful.
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