Friday, October 12, 2007

The World is Her Sandbox

Eleri was born to be an eternally denied only child. She's learned to share toys a bit more, and she's trying to understand the concept that she has to share lap time and attention, as well.

She, in her little four-year-old mind, has made the observation that in order to be *ahem* important, she must be "a boss" of something or someone.

I've heard her whisper to herself things like, "I am the little boss. I am the boss of the little people." She makes friends in preschool the ones who cry and miss their parents--Eleri takes them under her wing and shows them the ropes. In their thankfulness, they seek her approval because she treats them well and compassionately.

Her preschooler teachers are impressed with Eleri's empathy. I think she's parlaying it into a group of kids who will let her be their Benevolent Dictator.

Yeah, I confess to being concerned about a four-year-old with that kind of ambition. But then, she could be the next congresswoman or student body president or something BIG. My only hope is that she'll find that spot in her world where she'll be her happiest.

Like Sand in the Underpants . . .

. . . so are the days of our vacation.

We've been on the Outer Banks for the last week. We scrimp and save and--barring that, even borrow--to make sure we have one week in an oceanfront beach house.

This year, it's been Grandma and Pa Pa, Aunt Tammy and cousin Marshall, cousin Christian (who, at sixteen, still thinks it's cool to have his other young cousins worship him) and two dogs. Count the five of us, and yeah--it's a full house. Ethan and Eleri and Marshall have been sharing the bunk room, and we've been getting them to tell us their adventures at the end of most every day.

Ethan and Marshall are all about challenging the waves and letting them toss them like fish flopping on the shoreline. Eleri now loves getting into the surf, too, but for a different reason--she is a huntress of bugs usually, and now she's turned her attention to water creatures. She finds tiny clams by the handfuls and picks up the mole crabs and puts them into her bucket. We make her set them free after we take the pictures for her to keep.

Emmory wants nothing to do with the beach, yet. She wants us to carry her; she runs from the water. At best, she will play in the sand, but it's one of the few times she prefers someone's lap to running and exploring.

Why do we spend so much time and attention and money for one week out of fifty-two? Because in this one week, somehow, we distill time and make it count for more than usual. Because this one week reminds us of what we miss seeing in each other when we're too busy, too tired, too stressed to notice. Because it gives us something to shoot for--that oasis we see in the deserts of our lives that gives us the water to wash off the sand.