We went to Waimanalo over the weekend to a beach where the waves break at the shore. The waves can be small. The waves can be gnarly. The waves are what we go for. My son, who is twelve, likes to boogie board. He is okay at it. He is a pretty good swimmer. But I always worry. In the waves. They are unpredictable. And he is inexperienced in the waves. And the current.
It was too sloppy for me to go in that day. The waves were a mess breaking kind of off shore-ish and creating an environment that I was not particularly fond of closer to shore. My son and his dad went in together for a bit with one of the boogie boards. He gets frustrated, my son, and he was only able to catch a couple of waves before they gave up and came out.
My son decided to go back in by himself without the boogie board. He was mostly rolling around in the slop. And I could tell that half of the beach was in his swim trunks. I ventured down to the shore. At one point he went out a bit further. It was too deep for him to touch. And it looked like he could not get back in. It looked like he was struggling a bit. It looked like maybe his head was going under a bit. But I was right there. I waded out a little towards him. I asked him if he needed help. And then, the lifeguard was right there. Right to next to me. He had just appeared. Like magic. Holding that little red floaty thing. He asked me if that was “my boy.” I said yes and he turned and went back up the beach. My son came out and insisted that no matter what it looked like, he had been fine. He was not tired. Not trying to get in unsuccessfully. Not struggling. And definitely not drowning.
I told him that it looked like he might be almost drowning. He said that was not the case. Before we left the beach, I gave the lifeguards a bag of potato chips for their troubles. I felt like it was the least I could do.
And although it made me feel like a bad mother. And although it made me feel like I should have trusted my instincts because, based on the lifeguard’s actions, they were completely trustable, it made me happy that the lifeguard was there. That someone aside from me was watching for us. It was nice. It was comforting. To know that even if I was not down at the shore that there was someone else there. Someone else watching. Looking at those lifeguard towers, with the darkened glass, it is hard to tell what is going on in there. Hard to trust that whoever is in there is keeping an eye on the swimmers.
Trust. It’s a hard thing to gain but so easy to lose. And I have my mother’s sensibility about it. She will forgive many things but lying was about the worst thing that you could do. And this included both outright-to-your-face lies as well as lies of omission, of not owning up to something, or even worse, actively covering it up. It got so that all she had to do was look at me and the truth would come spilling out. Even if the lie had been well formulated and thought through. I would open my mouth and truth. In this sense, I have become like my mom. The last time my son lied to me about some school work and I found out, I told him that I was disappointed in him. He said it was the worst thing that I had ever said. It was the same with my mother when I was growing up. Being a disappointment. There was nothing worse. I think that we should all try to be more like the lifeguards. Watching out. Helping out. Being trustworthy. Just showing up. And owning up. Being there. And doing what is right. Especially today. Because all we have is each other. Trust. It’s a hard thing to gain but so easy to lose.