Posted by: martinworster | April 4, 2008

99. I AM ALL ALONE IN THE WORLD

It was ‘lunch break’ so I took Tristan for a cycle along the river to the beach. That’s what happens in my busy, work at home, hectic lifestyle. If there had been waves I would have surfed. Sorry Tristan.

On the way to the beach we passed a big construction site as they are doing major works to the massive sewage plant. The site is littered with cranes, trucks, diggers and other Caterpillar type giant Tonka toys. Tristan gets all excited so I have to slow down and stop so he can have a look.

‘Truck! Truck!’ He shouts.

I wonder if that means he wants to be a truck driver when he grows up, moving earth from one pile to another. It wasn’t what I had in mind for him, not that I’m a controlling and interfering type father. Poet, musician, scholar, athlete, , writer, enterpreneur. Yes. But truck driver, no.

We arrive at the mighty Pacific, although today it’s look less than mighty, affirming my decision to leave my surfboard behind. It’s grey looking, waves dribble against the coastline. A lone pelican bobs just outside the shorebreak.

Tristan runs onto the sand. No one is around. As always he heads for the most dangerous parts of the beach. He tries to clamber onto the rocky groin. He starts playing in the detritus of the high tide mark; seaweed, sticks, bits of glass and plastic, deflated ballons that I often mistake for jelly fish. I worry about the other rubbish – needles, corrosive batteries etc – that might have been washed in from the Southern Californian urban sprawl and pick him up to take him towards the sea.

I lie down and watch him play. He picks up sludgy sand and throws it into a little rock pool. He keeps doing it, a big grin on his face, the simple, repetitive pleasures of infancy. He is wearing shoes but steps in the pool and his brown courdroys get wet. It’s warm, the sun trying it’s best to eat through the haze.

After ten minutes or so I think about heading back, a guilty feeling that it is mid-week and I should be sitting in front of a computer, not watching my son in the sun. The irrational hum of the Protestant work ethic is always a nag.

‘Come on Tristan,’ I shout.

He ignores me so I shout again. He looks up briefly.

‘Okay, Tristan, come on. I’m going. Bye.’

I walk up the beach and turn around. Trisan is still playing, unpeturbed by my exit. ‘I know, I’ll teach him a lesson’, I think. I’ll hide behind that rock and that will panic him into leaving. I duck behind a big rock, peering around it with him still in my sights.

He looks up but there is not even a hint of worry that he has been left behind. He’s fiercely independent. I thought it might be a little lesson to him, that moment in life when we realise we are all alone and have to fend for ourselves, but he carries on playing happy as Larry. He’s too young for that awakening. I shout bye again. He looks up and then carries on throwing sand into the pool.

I start to feel a little silly hiding behind the rock. I wonder what other beach goers might think if they see me. I get up and pick up Tristan. Come on son. He starts to cry and scream, not wanting to leave. I hear a helicopter, thankful for the diversion it will provide.

“Look, helicopter,” I shout pointing up. He looks up, tear stained eyes wide with wonder and stops crying.
“Copter,” he says.

I wonder if that means he want’s to fly helicopters when he’s older. The skies the limit.

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