Our first surf together!
My first morning surf in 20+ years, and my first ever with Jaiden…Jaiden’s journey with the ocean has been a long and well documented one. When we set off back in 2012 I had dreams of spending our days on the beach together, but these dreams were shot down pretty quickly when I realised Jaiden hated the beach. The sand, the ocean, the noise, all of it.4 months later and hundreds of hours of desensitization, Jaiden was in the ocean, certainly not confident, but in there nonetheless. Fastforward a few years and many trips to the beach later, Jaiden finally got the courage to dive under an oncoming wave, he LOVED it! I could feel my dream of one day being able to get out and surf again, getting a little closer. His long standing fear of the water meant he certainly was not a confident swimmer, so fast forward another couple of years, more beach trips, many trips to the pool to help Jaiden gain water confidence, he was then able to tread water and swim 50m which was a huge improvement from the child who didn’t stick his head under water until he was 7.Another couple of years later and we’re in Townsville where Jaiden has the opportunity to snorkel for the first time. As keen as he is, once he’s in the water and unable to see the bottom, he instantly wants out. Despite this, he persists through the fear and goes on to have the most amazing day of snorkelling, checking out coral, chasing fish etc. We decided we would spend the next 6 months snorkelling our way down the QLD coast until beaches were deemed unsafe and we were all locked down…. A year into the ‘rona mess, I was certain that with some serious exposure to the beach, Jaiden’s confidence would continue to grow. So, we made the decision to buy a 4WD solely to enable us to go over to Moreton Island and spend several months snorkelling, learning to spear fish, and what we were both most excited about, surfing together. We regularly sat and visualised us standing side by side on our surfboards, riding a wave into shore together. Even that thought as I write this, brings a smile to my face.
As the months passed by it became clear that we had no chance of returning to QLD, so the 25k investment in a 4WD seemed to be totally wasted and both of us felt pretty low as we realised our dream Island winter was not going to eventuate. Despite making it back to QLD, the intensity of the past couple of months and some major financial struggles meant our island dreams were a long way off, despite Moreton being a stones-throw away from us.Earlier in the week we happened to be on the Sunshine Coast so I got us some body boards to head out in the surf. Jaiden really wanted to get a surfboard, but in a somewhat unprecedented change in roles, it was ME encouraging him to take it slow. We sat and talked about the importance of water safety, and water confidence. Jaiden agreed spending some time on the body boards would be a good way to get a little more confident in the ocean before stepping up to a surfboard. A few minutes later we were out there, and catching our first wave together Seeing his smile as he looked across at me, reaching out to hold my hand as we rode our first wave into shore together was a moment I won’t forget anytime soon. After an hour or so of catching waves with Jaiden, I was ready to hop out and of course, Jaiden wasn’t. As I sat there and watched him catch waves (and get wiped out) it dawned on me that whilst we had not fulfilled our dreams of standing up and surfing on a wave together, just riding one together on a body board was a huge step forward. Not only that, Jaiden was in the ocean, by himself, and LOVING it. Taking your child to the beach and watching them catch waves is a pretty normal experience for many, but with years into our beach journey my eyes welled up as I sat there reflecting on how far Jaiden has come. It would have been FAR easier for me to accept Jaiden did not like the beach and avoid it as to not cause him any distress, but my own determination to get onto the beach with Jaiden saw me refuse to accept it. I knew he would one day love the beach, I honestly didn’t think it would take 8+ years, but here we are. Watching him catch waves, wipe-out and get up with a smile on his face warmed my heart beyond belief. This is why we travel. This is why we homeschool. Not the lessons that come from the books, but the life lessons that help us grow, overcome our fears, and open up new possibilities for the future.