The day is shiny and plump. The boys and I drive to Point Roberts. The beach there is one of a kind. Lips of round rocks pucker up on the shore with each wave and if you’re patient and staring you see seeds of dolphins planted in the garden of water spread in front of your eyes.
I sit down in the sun with a book and think of lizards. They invented basking, they must have. The boys find a fort and gather weapons for a war to happen soon. They talk, run, jump. Stop. I take photos. They crouch down.
I take photos of them and yellow flowers and think of how deliciously wild they all are. You have too many weapons, Sasha. But I need the bow, I found it. OK, then each arrow counts as a weapon. No. Yes. No! Mooom! He can’t have that. Yes I can.
Have five weapons each I suggest while hanging onto the words in my book like a spider does to its web as it flies away. No, not enough. OK, seven then. Mooom! Then stop asking for my input. Back to my book.
Moooom! Sasha hits with all his might, we can’t have a war like that.
Clearly. Well, don’t hit hard then.
And back again. No, no, no dagger allowed. Oh, bugger. No reading then. Words scamper off the page like rabbits. Boys should come with volume knobs. They’d still be loud and wild on camera though. I pick up the very machine and click away.
I stop and look. Lie down, listen to sounds and the humming of boys. They play, jump, they run. Laugh. That’s a nice war indeed.
Could I have your camera for a bit? I had noticed the man, the woman and their umbrella since we sat down here. You should have a photo of the three of you he says. Yeah, it’s the kind of picture I like. Smile. Smile? Sasha takes his time to warm up to strangers. They both do.
Glass of wine? Sauvignon blanc, chilled and smooth. The breeze invites to irreverence. Donna and Bill and I. We laugh, talk parenting, fishing dogfish off of old wharfs, the dangers of raising children thinking they are good at everything. Yeah, what’s a participant ribbon anyway? Wrong, the three of us agree. They know about children, they have two grown ones. They speak with love but with good measure. I learn. The boys ask for a sip. Nah, not this year. How come you do? That question again. You’ll get there, don’t hurry. Donna laughs, she’s heard that before.
Here’s a good skipping rock, Bill says. He calls on Tony to skip together. He explains the swaying of the wrist and how to hold the rock the right way. Smooth side down he says while his thumb is feeling the upper rougher side. Skip. Four times. Tony does two on his second try. His smile skips all the way to me. Sasha paints on rocks with ocean water. Sprinkle sand on top, done!
We sip, talk schools and how they miss the beat at times, the genius of Isaac Asimov and the miracle of the printed word. Why so great, Tony asks? Oh, but you know, the wonder of knowledge that’s where it all starts. Ideas.
Skip some more. Donna tries her luck too and her enjoyment of this place is charming. Sasha brings me seaweed in a cup. For you, mom. I snack on it, it freaks them out still, but they’ve seen it enough times to get used to it. Salty and chewy, I like it. Tony’s rock skipped three times. Bill finds a good rock. Use it proudly. Tony walks and skips royally. It makes a boy taller, this skipping thing. You gotta hold the rock just so… He knows. Sasha finds a crab shell, rocks. He stuffs his pants and then holds onto them amused. They fall down otherwise, mom, I have too many rocks.
Donna and Bill put the umbrella away. Time to go. It’s almost eight. We will see each other again, we will. There’s so much to talk about. The sun has curled up in our car the whole afternoon and it bursts out when we open the doors. We drive home listening to “How to train your dragon.” Chuckle. Mom, isn’t Toothless funny? Yeah… I wish for toothless days that would leave my boys’ laughter crisp and whole. At home I make French toast with fruit and chocolate milk. Mouths full, laughing over spilled milk. Irreverence. Tickling has been proclaimed a sin tonight. Skip then. Sigh. Hug and good night.