by Kelly Velasco, Back2Back Staff in Mazatlan
A few months ago, my three children and I were at a birthday party at the beach. Learning how to surf, building sand castles, gobbling down cake and candy, and playing beach games. It was a great celebration.Two of my kids thoroughly love the ocean, jumping in waves, and searching for the shiniest seashells. I keep my eyes on them the whole time; after all they’re only 4 and 6. My other 4-year-old son, Alex, prefers the sand. He’ll dig a hole to China, and make a gazillion race tracks in the sand before we leave the beach, but you will never nd him close to the water.
During the birthday party, I strategically placed myself between the two in the water and Alex on the shore. I was enjoying the party, but keeping watch as they all played.The tide was coming in. Every so often,Alex and I would pack up the toys and towels and head further away from the water.We did this for several hours until it was dark and time to head home.We packed up, shook off, and loaded in the car.
In the car, I turned to give the normal “buckle up” announcement to my three self-suf cient kiddos in the back. I got two obedient buckles, and one screaming outburst with ailing arms and kicks, punches, screams and cries from the other. Caught off guard, I quickly lashed back, remarking, “No, you don’t do this. I gave you cake, candy, soda, and let you go to a birthday party, and this is how you repay me? You need to buckle up or you will never go to another birthday party” and then it hit me….
Alex wasn’t angry and throwing a fit because he had to buckle his seatbelt, he was releasing three hours of pent-up anxiety from fearfully watching the tide come towards him in by inch. For three hours, he sat in what looked like peaceful play, yet nervously watching the water quickly approaching him. He hates the water. He hates the waves. He was scared. He had lived in a state of fear for over three hours.
Alex got in the car, had a melt down and needed me to coach him through it. I quickly, redirected the conversation, “Baby, are you ok? Were you scared? Were you scared watching the tide come in?”
Before I could nish giving him words,Alex frantically responded,“Yes mommy, I was so scared.The water was coming at me the whole time.”
I held him tight, we took deep breaths, and we talked about the ocean, the waves, the sand, and how next time mommy would be sitting with him in the sand the whole time. I was reminded that day that there is always meaning behind behavior. For Alex, he needed my connection not my unregulated reaction.
Gabriel and Kelly Velasco and their three children serve in Mazatlan with Back2Back, where Gabriel is the site director.