Waking Up in the Ocean (#423)

3.30am and Charlie is awake—not because a bad dream or a stomachache (both of these are speculations) awoke him. Charlie has yet to fall asleep, as I can tell by the chirp sounds, the snatches of words, coming down the stairs.
I can hear the ocean now. From midnight till past 1am all anyone could hear in this house (and we have guests whom Charlie has been so delighted to see) was the sound of screeching, screaming, loud and wailing like sirens, wordless and horrible. Jim and I put Charlie in our bed and, in essence, waited it out (anything our voices said led to more and louder screeching).

Having guests of course changes the balance of bodies and talk in the beach house; Charlie, though, seemed more than glad for this and ran happily up and down the room after a picnic table dinner. I did hear a “no Grandpa!” and a call for “beach house” amid the screams. I remember these screams; they filled the last three days of our beach house vacation last year. Is Charlie already worrying about our leaving, with another full week of vacation to go? Is he trying to stay up to enjoy every last moment?

I can’t blame him. You should have seen him swimming in the wild deeps of the ocean this morning—grinning as he rode his boogie board beside Jim—but most of all this afternoon.

Jim had gone to meet two of our friends at a train station. Charlie and I went down to the beach where we found Kristina, who said she’d like to swim with Charlie. And out they went, with me prodding Charlie past the big wave crashing on the shore, and then rushing to tell the lifeguard that, good swimmer that Charlie is, he does not always respond to requests or understand about swimming between the orange flags.

Kristina stayed beside Charlie out into the ocean and—when he looked like he was heading too far out—directed him back. After a while, she had to go, then, and asked us to join them to do sparklers in the evening. “Charlie’s never done that, great!” I said. Charlie was already back in the ocean and swimming out to where he had with Kristina—and the waves were roiling, huge, it was high tide, it was rough—and when I called (shouted) “Charlie!”, he seemed to pause, he turned his face toward the shore and body-surfed in. And it went like that for wave on wave; when I asked Charlie to get out and go back in to swim near the lifeguard, he did, running in and swimming out into the waves, in over his head.

It was the kind of swim that you’d think would tire a 9-year-old boy so thoroughly out he’d be out like a light once his head hit the pillow—-not screaming desperately for a few hours and then lying awake (Charlie is still awake).

Perhaps the ocean has made Charlie wake up and not just from a night’s sleep?

We did not make it back in time to do the sparklers with Kristina and I am very sorry about that. I was planning to take Charlie across the street to say good-bye tomorrow morning but who knows whether he’ll be awake in time. But I do know, Charlie swimming in the ocean with another child is the kind of thing that does not happen every day.

4 Responses to “Waking Up in the Ocean (#423)”
  1. tara says:

    Kristina is a sparkler for Charlie!
    She has renewed my faith in humankind.

  2. Brett says:

    Brings back great memories of summer days at the shore. No oceans here in St. Louis. We’ve got some pools, but they’re not quite the same. There is nothing like the feeling of those heavy waves crashing over you and being able to float and swim when there is nothing but water all around.

    Not sure what it is about the ocean, and water in general, but it does seem to ‘wake you up.’

  3. kc'smommy says:

    What a great vacation for you guys! What a wonderful kiddo Kristina is! Maybe you get pick some sparklers up for Charlie and bring them home with you? Those things are too fun to pass up and I bet Charlie would love to hold one:)
    There is a friends program in the public schools here for Autistic kiddos, is there something similar in the schools in N.J.? I bet Charlie really loved playing with Kristina and had a blast! Another swimmer bud would be perfect for Charlie!

  4. kyra says:

    kristina and charlie sound like ocean angels. what a magical time you are having. so so sorry about the screaming. maybe the ocean water has woken something up and, as you say, charlie struggles with knowing he’ll have to say goodbye.

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