The old man sat on the bench, watching us interact. Ellie walking quickly up and down the sidewalk, trying to figure out a way to launch herself into the water in front of us to be closer to those boats. Every time she got too close to the edge of the rocky slope that ran into the jetty, I would try to redirect her. But no chance. This girl wanted to be in the water with those big boats. I spoke to her calmly, “I know you want to be close to those boats, but you will get hurt if you try climbing down there. Let’s see if we can find some more birds instead.” She would throw her body back in frustration with her Mama not allowing her to take a swim with the boats and I would gently pick her up and try to move her along to safer areas. The old man in the red coat smiled at me as I passed him with my daughter flailing around in my arms. “She’s a spirited one. Knows exactly what she wants.” I smiled back at him and replied, “She’s always known exactly what she wants, that’s for sure.” I gave my spirited child a squeeze and asked her if she would like to visit the beach across the way.
She stopped flailing and nodded enthusiastically. So we crossed over to the beach side and walked to the water. We discovered rocks and shells and dried up patches of seaweed, chased birds and climbed sand dunes.
The beach is good for your soul and good for the spirited child. We laughed as we toddled down the dunes, enjoying the chilly autumn beach air. We struggled when Mama had to pick Ellie up to cross the street, but then, after a silly game of finding Mama’s car we recaptured the hours we just shared to make the drive a little easier. Ellie listens intently and nods in serious agreement when I get to the part where she wanted to join the boats in the water but couldn’t. I can see her in the mirror. “Da Da”, she says, her way of saying, “yes, yes.” This girl of mine is quite something else. She’s smart, she’s strong and she’s spirited. And I couldn’t imagine her any other way.