Nature always wins

Boardwalk and coastline of Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach’s coastline near Golden Gate State Park

There is a moment we each have where we realize the power of nature. It could be a winter storm that rushes in and knocks out electricity. It ices roads resulting in people stuck in their homes using candles and playing Uno. For me, it was the first time I got stuck in the mud, and no matter how much I moved I couldn’t get out. Friends tried to help and also became stuck. We ended up laying down our brand new winter jackets to create an escape bridge. Sacrificing them to the mud for our freedom. We brought home our muddy, jacket-less selves. I then experienced another force of nature and was grounded for the first time.

Many of us might not remember that first time we dared to battle nature and nature won. From the boardwalk in San Francisco, I watched my son learn this lesson. His sister was asleep in the double stroller, and he wanted to get closer to the ocean. Neither he or his dad can swim so as they walked down to watch the waves I didn’t think much could happen.

I watched my son take off his shoes and socks and run in and out of the water. It was December, and the Pacific coast, so I hoped it was too cold for him. A tempting dance began between him and the waves. I felt that tightening a parent has in her chest when she knows she is not in control and there is a potential danger. I watched as a big wave thrust forward, grabbed him, and then spit him out. His dad bolted to scoop him up, and they rushed back to the stroller. He was cold and crying, and as I removed his clothes, he looked at me and wailed, “The ocean took my heart.”

I dressed him in a makeshift outfit. My winter jack with his dad’s jacket wrapped around his legs, and my hat, scarf, and mittens. I felt gratitude that he was ok. Then came the fear that he has the spirit that will dare to push boundaries and I won’t be able to protect him. A lot of parenting is letting go of control and allowing children to discover their nature. That day I watched his first heartbreak when he realized the ocean may not always be on his side. He was fortunate. I played in my mind the hundred other ways that incident could have transpired. I imagined the moves I should have made to prevent it. The truth is things will happen, I will do the best job I can, and we will keep moving forward. He has a curious spirit, his heart will get broken, and I will be there to take care of him.

Boy in giant jacket looking at his reflection
My son, in his post-wave encounter outfit, outside of the DeYoung museum

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