Las Quatro Harwoods

Surfing, Soccer, Smiles

A small moments entry. Not necessarily in chronological order, just as they come to mind.

This afternoon the Josie was excited to have been to soccer practice. She desperately wanted me to kick with her a bit when we got home. By 5:15 pm, quite honestly, I just want some time on my own. Ride the exercise bike or do some yoga, but its hard to turn the kids down. So I spent 5 minutes tossing the ball to Josie and then Maddox so they could kick it back to me. Then I successfully talked them into working together and letting me exercise. I get upstairs, peek out the window and they are happily working together. About twenty minutes later I look out and they are doing some sort of plyometric training in the garage with the guards watching them.

Sunday morning the clouds are threatening and heavy. The water looks flat as we reach the edge of the village and get our first views. But Joshua happens to be standing there as we pull in to Big Milly’s and he’s willing to take Maddox out in Mr. Bright’s absence. We paddle out into the smallish waves with a crew of four local boys, and are soon joined by a fellow surfer from China we had met a few weeks before as well as a new French friend. The waves pick up just enough and soon Maddox is all grins as he’s dropping in on waves that are almost over head for him with a little push from Joshua. I’m catching a few too while I keep my eyes on the storm out over the ocean. Soon the rain starts trickling down, the waves get a little choppy and I look to see Maddox has headed for the beach. I work my way in and he tells me he’s had enough just as the rains come full force. We ride home slightly chilled, but with warm muscles and a smile that will last the rest of the day.

Josie gets off the bus and sees Maddox and I standing by the arches of the school with Hallie and breaks into a sheepish grin. She’s got on different clothes than she left in this morning, but she’s obviously had a great time. She and Robyn are returning from a hiking trip with about thirty girl scouts and their assorted parents. Despite the torrential rains Maddox and I rode home in earlier, they managed to stay dry throughout the day. Josie won’t tell me much right now, but as the day goes on the stories spill like milk at breakfast and she’s glowing with pride.

Its a long weekend and we’re sitting on the beach at Till’s. All the kids around Maddox and Josie’s age left this morning, but another family of friends with older kids arrived in their place. Maddox and their two high school boys have found a spot on the beach where the sand drops a good three or four feet towards the water and they’re working their way through alternately “surfing” down the slope on a boogie board, hurling themselves as far as they can off the cliff and attempting flips off the edge. Eventually it gets too dark to see and we all head up for showers with plans to meet for dinner. The evening is beautiful. There’s a breeze and conversation is light and easy. Our kids faces are beaming as they listen to the adults sharing stories and sit interspersed with these awesome high school kids who treat them as if they are equals. Food is delicious and the beer is at least coldish. The smiles and laughter shared between our families are cherished.

Josie is serious as she can be and will hardly look at her piano teacher, but its also obvious she loves this. She’s fighting back grins as she knocks off each exercise and demonstrates her ability to read music. The focus on her face is not that of a five year old’s and somehow all of a sudden she just seems so big. She’s playing a song and beaming with pride as her teacher praises her. The lesson ends and she skips out of the room and down the stairs to find the rest of our family.

Its a Friday afternoon and Maddox’s training session has just ended. Josie is at a play date and Robyn is off to book club. We decide to stay and watch the U-17 team that is having tryouts. We end up sitting on the bench surrounded by local kids with big dreams. Maddox sits in my lap and we talk strategy and cheer the boys on as they play. From time to time he hops up and goes to talk to the coach, who’s also his own coach. to discuss some of the players or what’s happening on the field. The boys around us aren’t speaking English to each other, but I’m pretty sure they understand what we’re saying. We still manage to share some laughs and amazement as we watch the game. We are definitely outsiders, minorities in this place, but still accepted in this shared love of this beautiful game and the dreams around it.

I have to leave school early to take Josie to the doctor. She’s got a fever. That’s never fun. She’s not feeling good and the whole doctor thing takes a long time. There’s some heavy negotiations to get the finger prick done and lots of tears. But then she’s snuggled up on my lap watching cartoons in the waiting room and eventually I get her home. She’s going to be fine, its not malaria and she’s got some medicine. We snuggle on the couch, I do some work while she sleeps deep. She looks so big stretched out there on the couch. Sometimes its hard to figure where this big girl snuck in from. She’s gotten long and lean. She wakes up and the medicine has done its trick. She feels better, for now, and wants to talk a bit and watch something with me. You never want your kid to be sick, but somehow this feels good to have some time with my girl.

Dinner is over and the kitchen is more or less cleaned up. The music is pumping in the living room and the kids are begging us to hurry up and come see the show. They’ve each worked out their own choreography to the same song and as we make our way to our seats, they’re still negotiating how they’re going to split the song up between them and who is going first. They each dance with such grace and seriousness that its hard not to smile. They’ve obviously practiced and thought this through and nail some moves right with the beat. Its hard to get them to stop to do some homework.

Its Monday afternoon and I’m soaked, tired and a little sore. It feels so good. The rest of the crew is still playing. There are close to twenty of us today. Expats from the US, Canada, Australia along with a pile of local staff. Ages range from undetermined, but probably close to 18 to close to fifty. We’re teachers, coaches, drivers, administrators, teacher assistants, tech department guys during the day, but every Monday around 5 we all turn into kids again and spend an hour or so playing the beautiful game. We play hard. Ok, hard as we can. Sometimes it only comes in small spurts. Sometimes I do more standing than running. But we laugh, we argue, we laugh some more. We sit and talk afterwards and I always go home with a smile.

Maddox is practicing his guitar for his performance that’s coming up in school. He’s dressed as Michael Franti, because he’s going to school as him for dress like a peace worker or hero day tomorrow and he’s a little excited. He’s sitting on the couch playing his guitar while Robyn sits on the floor and sings, Josie sits on the coffee table putting together an anklet for her friend. It sounds good and eventually Josie decides to join in too.

Beach clean up day at Kokrobite and there’s a surf contest too. Maddox has said on the way there that he’s not interested in the contest. He just wants to surf a bit. We get there and his friends are around and asking if he’s going to surf. Local guys he surfs with every weekend and some high school guys from school are all asking him why not. I tell him no worries, do what he feels like. Then Bright says he’s signed him up. Finally he can’t stand it and says he’s in. He can barely contain his excitement and scarfs down some chicken and chips. Maybe he chewed it, maybe not. He hits the water in a heat with four high school kids and in my possibly somewhat biased opinion, he shreds. He has some long rides with great turns. But he’s catching whitewater and the big boys have paddled out so he doesn’t make the finals. Its a hard loss. The excitement of it all had his hopes up, but its a good lesson and with all my heart I’m so proud of him and tell him so.

Its Tuesday night at 8:30pm and Robyn is fast asleep beside me. The kids are snoozing in their beds and Hallie is with them. There’s a breeze blowing through our bedroom and the night sounds are soft and comforting. These are the ones I love. These are the moments that make life beautiful. Life is good.

I hope that your days are full of moments that make you smile and people that fill you with love. I hope you do the same for those around you.

One Love my friends.

This entry was published on September 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm. It’s filed under family and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Surfing, Soccer, Smiles

  1. Thank you Ryan. I thoroughly enjoyed this. It made me remember to enjoy every little tiny moment in life. You are doing this and your life is richer for it !

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