Have you ever noticed a group of sandpipers playing in the waves on the beach? They are amazing little creatures, kind of bouncy and hyper and sweet. I could watch them for hours.
The first time I realized that little toddlers resemble sandpipers was in Mexico in February 2010. Our Donna had died just four months earlier and we packed up some swim suits and her surviving baby brother, now a 14 month old toddler, and headed south.
It was a healing vacation. We all napped every day and there was no wifi, so books and magazines and cards were our entertainment. And the ocean, with its waves and its vast nature, just took us in and held us close and whispered in our ears how sorry it was that our girl was gone. The salt of our tears blended with the ocean.
There was joy, too. And gratitude. We had our boy. He needed us, just as Donna had. That trip was an awakening for me in many ways. An introduction, again, to our son, who for so many months had gotten our leftovers.
Fourteen months is just at the cusp of those sandpiper days. He didn’t like the ocean so much, our boy, so he stayed up on the beach and occasionally, though not often, flirted with the waves. He bopped up and down just as the sandpipers were doing. Immediately I saw the connection between my boy and the birds. It was adorable and filling and healing in a different way.
We left Mexico, as all vacations end someday, but those sandpipers stayed with us, bopping up and down our long hallway in our boy’s steps. For months while in that stage, I called him “my little sandpiper.” His energy and joy and swiftness and sweetness matched those ocean birds in every way.
But just as vacations end, so does the toddler stage. Our little sandpiper grew up and those days were forgotten, remembered occasionally when we would visit them at the local zoo.
Now, though, we are in the midst of another sandpiper phase. I love it. I love all of it. Well, most of it. Strangely, our new little sandpiper kind of shape shifts at diaper changing time into a bucking bronco. But, for the most part, these days are sweet, full of that light, bouncy, joyful energy a young toddler brings to your life.
It is a gift, these sandpiper days. I treasure them.