Our five month Miami experiment began when Isaiah was six months old. Before he learned fear, I would take off his diaper and bounce around in the ocean waves with a smiley chubby baby in hand. We left Miami when he was almost a year old. When he was one and two months we went back to the ocean. I expected him to frolic into its arms, embracing the water like an old friend, but instead he cried out at its sight. He did not want to get close to it. Each time we got too close he cried and screamed and ran away.
Maybe its vastness made him feel small. I do not know. Isaiah loves to swim in his tub and in the pool. I dreaded him becoming one of those people who are scared of the ocean. The ocean, the sea, the lake, the river and the waterfall are my best friends. I may not care if my son goes to Harvard (that I cannot control) but I would love for my son to be a free nature boy.
I decided back then that I have to be patient, maybe it will take him years to realize how fun it is to jump in the waves. But he will dammit. I tried to help him. I ran water back and forth in buckets at his requests. “See Isaiah, water from the ocean. Feels good on your feet.” I lured him closer to the water’s edge by inching the buckets nearer. I tried to carry him in my arms playfully but when he saw a small wave crash at my feet, he cried.
On this trip, I gave up. I decided to let time do its magic. I did not want to lure, persuade or educate. Yesterday, Isaiah and I were playing in the sand and Yura decided to go for a dip. I saw Isaiah following him with his eyes. Papa went Koop Koop (that is short for koopatsa – swim in Russian). “Koop, Koop,” he repeated in a trance, hypnotized by Yura’s swimming form in the giant water growing smaller. I could not believe what I was seeing, I almost had to pinch myself. “You want to go Koop Koop?” He did not nod but he did not shake his head either. I picked him up and he consented. I walked to the water and no scream. I stepped in, he was still fixated on Yura. “Yura, he wants to go koop koop!”
All we had to do was lead by example.