When we went for a morning swim in the ocean at 10.30am it was high tide and only four or five people were in the waves----these were huge, great rolling swaths of water smelling of fish and seaweed and salt. Charlie walked the shoreline before going in holding Jim's hand. The waves were so big that Charlie could swim, face in for quite a ways.
As I went to get the boogie boards, a girl of 12 or so whose name (as I'd noted when a friend called to her) was Kristina, smiled at me and said, "I saw you yesterday and you're back!"
She ran straight into the water holding her board and was soon rising and falling on top of the waves, and soon floating near to where Jim and Charlie were. They were pretty far out but, from my viewpoint nearer the shore, I could see Kristina (I'll assume that to be how she spells her name) talking to Jim and turning her board in line with Jim's and Charlie's. Charlie was hanging on with a slight frown---he is a natural swimmer, but manipulating a boogie board is another matter. For the first time, Charlie is sometimes kicking back into the waves and turning his board but he still needs Jim to grab the front of his board and help him.
In today's so big waves, Jim had briefly floated away, and then I saw Kristina reach over and pull the front of Charlie's boogie board straight, and the two of them riding a wave.
Charlie wanted to eat lunch as soon as he took his hot shower--actually, he has been asking to eat about every fifteen minutes since yesterday. Certainly, swimming in the ocean breeds a big appetite in a growing boy. When Charlie and I had gone shopping yesterday morning, he had picked out a bag of gluten-free tater tots from the frozen section. Frozen French fries are a stim-food for Charlie and I am sure he could eat the whole bag in one sitting---and parental responsiblity calls for me to know that Charlie can learn not to do that.
"Let's have a green apple, how about some chips too?" Jim and I have been asking. "A few more and we'll save the rest for later."
Charlie's face froze in a stare, he cried out, he ran into the kitchen---to the freezer I thought----until I heard the bang on the wall and ran in to find the dent and my crying, desperate boy. In a moment of catastrophe, I thought, this is the end of vacation. How, what, could, no, not, please.
When things were calmer---a mere half-hour---we went back to the ocean before the lifeguard left. It was low tide and Jim and Charlie went far, far out, hand in hand. I could see Charlie smiling as he ducked under the waves or rode piggyback in the foam and sunshine.
There is no cure for trouble like the ocean.
As we three sat in the beach house after dinner, there was a rap on the door.
"Can Charlie come out? We're playing kickball and two boys just left and it's boys against girls." It was Kristina, whose parents had rented the lower story of the house across the street.
Charlie lay back down on the couch as Jim and I urged him to put on his shoes. Charlie got up slowly with four kids waiting on the beach house doorstep, and into street we went, where the kids had chalked in home plate and the three bases. "You're the shadow," I said to Jim as he and a smiling Charlie---an excited, jumping Charlie---stood behind Kristina's brother who kicked a few fouls before running hard for first base (and stealing second). Charlie's kick was more of a bunt but he ran on his own for, and past, first base (Jim ran after, grinning). The next kick by Kristina's brother went out past all three girls and Charlie made it back to home plate, laughing all the way. Charlie went up to kick and ran the bases once again before the sound of the ice cream truck resulted in Kristina calling, "Stop to get ice cream!"
Charlie got a cotton candy-blue raspberry water ice, which he ate in the beach house front yard (Kristina's friends have a puppy and Charlie still has dog fear). Jim and I chatted and found out about someone's cousin having an autistic teenage and someone else teaching in a high school with an autism classroom, and then Charlie went into the beach house to take off his wet shirt and then we three went down to the ocean.
The wind was strong and a nano's worth of sand pelted us.
"You can see how the tide's coming back in," said Jim.
"This flying sand is too much for me," I said.
Charlie, all smiley, was padding about in his ocean and I know he would have stayed till the next high tide---all night long---but his demeanor was such that he did not mind it when Jim took his hand and we three walked back up in the sand, to the beach house, the ocean tides easing us in.