Playground Perspective: Teaching A Girl To Fish

You probably know by now that Thea is  fortunate enough to have 1) a great grandfather who 2) lives in a beachfront house at the mouth of the RappahanockRiver. Pop Pop turned 90 this year, and while Thea describes him as “the oldest person I love” he is still living in his own home on the water.

It is one of Thea’s favorite destinations, and not just because she gets to have a Slurpee on the drive back to Richmond at the e nd of a high-energy day or weekend trip.

Pop Pop bought his waterfront home (actually four lots anchored on three sides by a navigable creek, the Rappahanock and the Chesapeake Bay) in the 1950s for a song and a dance. It is where Thea’s Grandpa Jay and her MeMa spent many of their younger years, and where her Uncle BJ and her mamma grew up, learned to boat and swim, and played and whiled away their own summers.

And it’s not far from the riverfront shacks on the Rappahanock and Piankatank rivers where I spent most of my childhood summers.

A typical day at the river for Thea – now that she’s four, and moving toward some fashion of independence – consists of sunrises on the beach with mom or dad; a drive into Deltaville for coffee with a visit to the boat museum and nature garden/trail; the constant acquisition of “beautiful” and “interesting” shells, pebbles, bits of sea glass and sun-bleached crab claws; minnow chasing with nets; fishing from the pier; collecting flowers; snuggling on the hammock; and, when Uncle BJ and his family are there, boat rides and nonstop action with her cousins Baker and Caroline.

Did I mention the incessant lure of the water? Yes, she is now at the age where frequent immersion in the water is a requirement. Swimming is now an essential element of a visit to Pop Pop’s.

All the activity aside, I think Thea loves Pop Pop’s for all of the right reasons – it is different, it is more outdoors than indoors, there is more freedom, and she feels more of our love. That’s right. All of us slow down when we’re at the river, and there are more cuddles, more hand-in-hand walks and more hammock time than Richmond tends to afford. Or, than we afford when we’re in Richmond, I should say.

The change of pace is subtle, and it comes at an investment of time, attention and energy. But what change doesn’t?

How do you slow down – at work, and at home – so the people who look to you for leadership and support can feel more of your love?