We had just bought him a brand new kayak in the hopes he would, but still, with a 14-yr-old (especially of the lethargic naysaying variety) you never know. After all, school just ended and there's a whole summer ahead of him, and I came in to wake him at 5:15 a.m.
"Let's go," I said. "You said you were coming."
And he did something miraculous: He got out of bed.
As we loaded the kayak on the car and strapped it on, I still had my doubts. As we arrived at the beach and unloaded and dragged it down to the waterline, I still had my doubts. As he looked at the seaweed and lapping waves that carried the potential jellyfish and other sealife he's heard me talking about for the past several weeks as I, myself, conquered the world of open water swims, and said, "Okay, I'm not touching that," I still had my doubts.
But then, he stepped in, sat down, and started paddling.
He had told me he had done plenty of kayaking at his week-long sleepaway camp over the past two summers, but I had never seen him, so really had no idea.
My mother's nerves tugged at the back of my brain, as off he went beyond the ropes to wait for me and the rest of the swimmers to join him.
And, then, it happened. It became abundantly clear that he was adept with the kayak; that he was even in his element. He steered away from us and cut across the water's surface like a pro.
As I swam along behind him, periodically glancing up to catch a glimpse of him in his flame red-orange kayak, a red life jacket and puff of brown hair moving farther and farther away from me, it filled me to see my boy this way: Capable. At peace. Self-assured.
It is an image I won't forget, though words will never capture the way it made me feel.