Don’t Throw the Sand: Learning Not to Retaliate
article by Cindy G. Foust
Happy August faithful readers, I hope this month’s column finds everyone enjoying these last lazy, and might I add hot, days of summer. My family actually just got back from a beach trip, and after 3 years of not having a “real” vacation, I have to tell you, it was glorious. I loved having my children under the same roof for an entire week…all to myself. Well, I shared them with Scott, too. We did as little as possible; ate our way through Seaside…and I can’t remember when I was so relaxed. By the way, in what has historically been my favorite month for Bayou Life, the food month, that is the only mention of food this month’s column, except for a Tootsie Roll Pop. But I’m getting ahead of myself, which I usually do.
Now, where was I? Oh, we were also blessed with some great weather, sunny skies with only the sounds of an occasional naval aircraft doing their training flybys to disturb our thoughts. I love that gentle reminder, don’t you? That there are military personnel working every day to insure our safety so we can enjoy the privileges that we have.
Wait, where was I? Again? Oh yes, my perfect vacation. Well, except for that one day that did in fact start as the perfect day by all accounts. There was a light breeze, the smell of salt and sunscreen was in the air and my family allowed me to play my favorite Pandora station, Hall & Oates (you will thank me later). I remember waking from my doze and reaching in my bag for that Tootsie Roll Pop (see above) and before I knew it, I had made my way to the “how many licks does it take to get to the middle of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” Except there was no Tootsie Roll. No, just a white stick. That should have been an ominous sign right there, but no, I decided to head to the water for a bit of a cool down. Except there was a shark out there and readers, I don’t mind saying I got the (rhymes with TELL) (I love Jesus but I cuss a little) out of there. I’m not even ashamed to say I looked like a gazelle floundering and flopping trying to get out, as I didn’t want to be shark bait with my glistening legs. It was probably just a catfish or something but I decided not to chance it and got myself back to land…walking (or running) on water if you must know. After I got back to my chair and picked up my book, it’s about midday, right? And my family actually got up at 6:00 a.m. and “saved our seats” on the beach so no one could sit in front of us. Well, except for this family that decides at 12:00 p.m. to bring their tents and their chairs and their boom box and plant right in front of us. Man, I wanted to “cuss a little,” but I actually got so engrossed in “people watching” this colorful group that I forgot to be mad. I mean, don’t we all people watch at the beach? Of course, we do, because somebody somewhere will inevitably make a swimsuit choice that suddenly makes you feel like Christie Brinkley. Am I right? But I bet none of you have watched a husband (I’m assuming they were married) use an entire tube of sunblock to “lather” up his wife before. But that’s all I am going to say about that since this in fact, a children’s column. And I’m getting to the “children’s issue,” I promise. Because right next to the colorful family, readers, was a young family that also caught my eye. You see, the beach in all its glory, is still a really hard place for me to visit. It was, after all, the place we were as a family during the last week of my baby boy, Samuel’s, life. I would say it’s a trigger that does in fact cause me to dread the memories that inevitably will surface. But, I’ve gotten pretty adept at swallowing that lump in my throat, because there’s really nothing more magical than watching children play on the beach. Building sandcastles, chasing fish with their nets, carrying bucket after bucket of water to their workstations…it’s pure magic. This particular family that I was watching had two precious children…a little boy and a little girl. “Brother” was busy chasing fish with his little net and “Sister” wanted the net. I’m not all together sure why “Mom and Dad” wouldn’t have two nets, but hey, it’s not my fish to fry; all I know is there was only one net and “Sister” wanted it and “Brother” was in no mood to share. “Sister” decided to act out, as we might expect, and started stomping and sputtering and demanding that he give her the net. Still nothing. So she sputtered and cried and stomped some more and ended up standing right over him with her arms crossed. Nope, not working. Let me tell you readers, this was a fit throwing episode of gigantic proportion; one (or twelve) that we have either likely thrown ourselves or watched our own children throw. Right? When “Sister” realized that she wasn’t getting the net, she reached down and grabbed a handful of sand. Just as she rared back to throw it, “Dad” intervened. “Don’t throw that sand at your brother.” At the sound of his voice, this little baby girl, likely about 3 years old, dropped her sand. And that readers, is how we got from a Tootsie Roll Pop to the moral of this story. As I watched that little girl pick up that handful of sand and ready herself to throw it, it occurred to me that we, including our children, do the exact same thing in life, right? Just hear me out. When someone wrongs us, or we don’t get our way, sometimes in a split second, we pick a handful of sand up and just sling it at our target. Without hesitation, we sling that sand (or mud for a like analogy) and sometimes, the bandwidth of that sand is far and wide and the repercussions can be hurtful and ugly. As we ready our children for another school year and give them the talks: “Don’t talk in class;” “Don’t put your gum under your desk;” “Don’t go sharpen your pencil in the middle of the teacher talking;” “Don’t get sent to the principal’s office;” might we find some time to remind our children that “throwing sand” is unnecessary and unkind. Remind them to “be the bigger person” and “take the high road.” I know it’s hard readers, because our innate reaction when someone hurts us is to retaliate and sling that sand. But the truth is, when we don’t throw the sand, and simply walk away, the example that sets has a far greater impact than being the “sand thrower.” My daughter is about to start her senior year, and I’m in my feels, but I ask that you join me in prayer as we get ready to send them back for a safe and prosperous year, full of wonderful memories.
Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the alphabetmom.com for weekly columns about home life, parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.