The waves were powerful and regular as clockwork. My children were thrilled, riding on top of a two-person tube, eager to go deeper despite the drenching splashes and chilled shudders. We were just in a wave pool at a local theme park but as I watched them bobbing on their little craft, it felt like a metaphor for both their personalities -- and possibly their lives.
Miss Awesome is smaller, younger, still a faltering swimmer, yet it was she in the bow. She faced every wave head-on with a triumphant shout even when she could barely breathe for all the water cascading down her face. She urged her brother to move forward, go deeper, catch the biggest waves. I pulled them shallower and she glared at me, making it clear that I was overstepping my limited rights. Had I not been there she would have been in the seven foot deep part where the waves were strongest and least predictable. She has no fear of adventure and few qualms about fighting for whatever she wants, no matter the odds, consequences, or who is standing in her way.
The Boy, in the stern, didn't appear to be paying much attention to the waves. He was busy trying to engineer ... something. I couldn't quite decipher his goal, although it was perfectly clear to him. It involved getting a moving craft to stay in the exact right orientation. Even as they were tossed up and then down he was asking me to turn and shift the tube just so. He, too, was delighted by the action, but as usual he was focusing more on some inner voice. The boundary between what happens in his mind and our reality is thin, and sometimes I wonder what he really is experiencing.
Sometimes one child would slip, and immediately the other was there, grabbing a wrist or lifting with a foot, laughing and teasing, but always helping. As with any siblings they have awful fights and sometimes wish out loud that the other didn't exist. But in between they have a sweetness to their relationship, a friendship on top of their family connection. It comforted me, knowing they are there for each other. Miss Awesome will stand and defend her brother against any challenge. The Boy will catch his sister and keep her afloat through any adventure. And I will watch from a distance, ready to pull them back but silently urging them forward.