Beaches are magical places in my book. Natural beauty, warm sand, cool water, and best of all, soft surfaces all around make it one of the few “safe” places where Sienna can play like every other kid.
“Like every other kid” is something that I’m working hard on right now as we get ready for Sienna to start preschool in the fall. She will have an aide with her to prevent her from bumps, bruises, and getting run over by other kids (which could all trigger FOP flare-ups and permanent loss of motion), but I want to make sure that the aide is in the background and not someone who Sienna relies on at the expense of building relationships with her peers and her teachers.
But back to the beach. Now that it’s warm out, Sienna is thrilled that now when we go to the beach, we can actually swim. This week, we were digging a moat together when another girl about Sienna’s age joined in. I faded back and enjoyed watching her naturally make friends. At one point the other girl shouted “let’s go out to sea” and the two of them grabbed their buckets and ran splashing into the water. Her mom popped up and shouted “not so deep!” and gave me a smile as if to say “kids!” and I smiled back, secretly celebrating that for maybe the first time ever, I wasn’t the first mom to yell “be careful!” (I was about to, though…)
The girls then alternated roles – one would dig and one would go back and forth filling buckets of water and adding them to the moat. Then several more kids showed up. Turns out Sienna’s friend had several cousins at the beach as well. Suddenly, Sienna was at the center of a whole group of new friends, working together to build an elaborate sand-moat.
I never had to tell any of them about FOP or single Sienna out for being different because everything that they were doing was totally safe. Sienna was beside herself with glee about her moat and her new friends, and I was enjoying watching it so much that I let her stay an extra two hours past our planned departure.
When it finally came time to pack up our beach toys, we did so without a ton of fanfare, even though I wanted to hug each and every one of them. But I restrained myself so we could leave “like every other kid” and saved all 5 hugs for Sienna when we got home.