“When is she going to catch her first wave?” I’d been asked that question a few times and always answered “when it seems like the right time.”
I didn’t want to force it. The last thing I wanted was for her to wipeout, have a bad experience, and then develop a fear that would take years to overcome. I was happy with her being happy playing at the water’s edge or splashing her little feet in the shallowest water.
Then one bright sunny day I decided to try pulling her on a boogie board along the wet sand. I started slow and checked in with her often and saw that she was liking it!
She even wiped out and rolled off into the sand once, but was willing to get back on. Then we started getting a little too brave and close to the water. A small wave came up and hit her on the side and dumped her off into the shallow water. I scooped her up immediately, but she had a face full of salty sand. It was up her nose, in her ears, and stuck in her eyelashes. She cried a bit but it seemed that she was more scared by my reaction. I was worried that the game was over, but she got back on the board.
A few days later the waves were really small and the tide was perfect. Little tiny whitewash waves were breaking in knee deep water and rolling gently towards shore. There was a 9’6 on the beach so we grabbed it and waded out ’til we were about waist deep. One of our instructors was there to help out. She positioned the board and I sat down with my legs out in front of me and held the little girl in my lap. When the right wave came in, the instructor pushed us in and we rode towards shore.
The first wave, she was dancing her little legs around and we rode all the way in. We ended up catching four waves like that and I was so happy! She wasn’t laughing like crazy, or crying in fear. She seemed to be very serious about it, watching and taking it all in.
A little while later I decided to try it with a boogie board. I waited for a gentle little wave, plopped her down on the board and then laid down on top of her and we rode that one all the way in also. That, she didn’t seem to like as much. Maybe the water was too close to her face, maybe she didn’t like me on top of her, or maybe she was just like, “Mama, I don’t want to be a boogie boarder, I want to surf!”
There is absolutely no rush, but I do hope she falls in love with surfing as I have so that in a few years we’ll be able to share waves together.