What My Grandkids Won’t Believe

Ocean City NJ, lifeguard rowboadThe waves crest in and out, gray and blue, as the sun rises over the expanse of dawn-rose sand. In the NJ beach city I’m visiting, the sandy stretch is long and wide thanks to the humungous efforts of the state to save and preserve its beaches.

But of course that’s not what I’m concentrating on as I walk a mesmerizing pace past one empty lifeguard stand to another, each one symbolizing the length of two blocks.

I focus my attention, instead, on the being that’s following me, slowly, lazily, in the water as I stride on the beach in fierce wonder.

http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/shark-week/videos/the-nightmarish-megalodon/Throughout the week my grandkids – 3, 7, 8 years old – have regaled me with facts of the shark and the megalodon, the tyrannosaurus and the brontosaurus. I see those creatures in my sleep, large and dangerous, teeth sharp and serious.

But on this dawn walk I discover another creature entirely. She can’t be, and yet there Ocean City NJ, beach walkshe is, taunting me as she glides along just 10 yards from the shoreline, slinking in and out of the waves with such grace and guilelessness that my breath stops.

She can’t be.

Yet, her blue florescent reptilian-like skin gleams purple in the rising peach sun. Her tail is long and pointed with a prong at the end. Her face  …

. . . her face is more beautiful than a newborn babe’s. More peaceful than a pink peony. Her countenance shines brighter than the wisest prophet, and her eyes shine wisdom unknown to humans.

I walk on, waiting, wishing, for a word from her.

But she’s silent.

We visit like this for a mile: I walk slickly along the sand, she glides like an eel in the feet-away sea.

The silence is as loud as a prayer.

When I pass the twelfth lifeguard stand, she disappears.

I stop and stare out in the open ocean, at first bereft with loss, but then joyous beyond belief.

And that’s the problem, who will possibly believe me?

I turn around, a bit irate that I now have 24 sandy blocks to walk back to our rental house. But in that time, I decide exactly who to share my tale.

The children – who believe in megalodons and dinosaurs.

But my shock at their reaction stings me to the core.

The 7- and 8-year old begin to listen open-mouthed as I tell them of my encounter. They’re patient as I describe the color of the sky, the feel of the sand, the sound of the ocean. But when I get to the wondrous female creature … their eyes roll and they turn their heads away from me.

Dismissing me.

Oh, it’s just Madre telling one of her stories.

grandson, floppy hat, summer funNO! I try to explain. Listen! The 3-year-old stands still, staring at me, for some reason wearing my beach hat and wielding a floppy sword.

He believes in knights and pirates and Crustacean monsters.

But he shakes his head in firm disapproval of my own fantastical oceanic account and follows his brother and sister out of the room.

But I really saw her!mermaid tale

Do you believe me?

92 thoughts on “What My Grandkids Won’t Believe

  1. I believe you,Pam! 😀. Lovely wondrous writing – I was with you on that beach! I love it when children are at that wonderfully devouring and sharing knowledge age – precious times.


  2. As ever I believe you … walked a stretch of the Dorset Jurassic Coast with two of my grandkids a couple of weeks ago, they were strangely quiet, the sea does mysterious things, or maybe it was the mild threat I’d chuck them in if they misbehaved … and no they’d never believe that of silly Grandad!


  3. Pam, I know what you saw on your walk- it can only be seen in quiet moments when there are very few people around. That’s why most visitors to Ocean City don’t see it!


  4. What do I believe? I believe that we human beings spend too much valuable time discounting what is not possible instead of investing that same time in contemplating everything that is. It makes my heart smile to know that there are still some of the latter who believe in believing.


    • Why do your words always give me goose bumps, Dave? Y E S , too few are invested in what IS and COULD BE, and instead only consider what is not. I’ve often been accused of being too dreamy-eyed and illogical. I happen to think the world would be a much happier place if more of us considered our dreams instead of our wide-awake notions.

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  5. Oh, Pam, I love the wonder and magic of this post…and the writing is beautiful. I was completely taken in. The images were perfect too. I started with the shark and then toward the end realized it was a mermaid! ❤ I can't believe for a moment that those grandchildren didn't believe you. What's wrong with them? Ha ha. I used to vacation at Long Beach in NJ as a kid with my cousins. Lots of great memories there. Enjoy your vacation!


  6. Not so pretty, but I’m certain some sort of sea creature swam parallel with me for a while on a beach in Lowestoft (England) a few years back. Seemed to be curious, and I was sad when he/she disappeared.


    • Ohhh, so wonderful, Roy, that you experienced a similar sighting. I think we feel this sense of loss because we realize we’ve seen something that’s always there, but most times we’re too involved in ‘reality’ to peer into the dimensions that surround us.


    • And you know, Patricia, I read all sorts of books to these grandkids, with talking backhoes and children who escape into museum paintings and dragons who fly. WHY wouldn’t they believe their Madre’s mermaid? Perhaps they need the adults in their lives to always keep hold of a reality they’re just learning they have to accept. I certainly remember my confusion when I was 5 or so, when I realized that grown-ups didn’t see the same things I did, and that I wasn’t allowed to see the shadows anymore.

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    • I’m thrilled, Gerlinde, but not at all surprised that a family of these sea mermaids frequent the gorgeous area where you live. Perhaps you can send a cheery hi from me, the next time you have an encounter in one of your sandy sea walks. xo


  7. It sounds like it might have been a mermaid to me, but I don’t quite have enough information to identify the species. It might have been the common, the lesser forktailed, or possibly even Franklin’s laughing mermaid. (Congratulations if it was the latter. They’re very rare.)

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  8. I believe you! They’re real, I’m sure, even though I haven’t had the pleasure of encountering one myself. It’s narrow-minded of us to think that creatures don’t exist just because there is no scientific evidence! What a great experience!

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  9. Do I believe you? How could I not? For I saw her through your words, in the space between the words. Hey, did I tell you that my son and daughter-in-law will be moving from San Diego to NEW JERSEY in the upcoming year? I, too, may see this creature. Or a mythical creature named Pam. One never knows!


    • Whaaaa??? From San Diego to NJ – they will have huge culture shock. They’ll see mythical creatures all over the place, but if they need some help in demystifying them, or figuring out the state of the state of NJ, let me know. North Jersey or South Jersey? (They’re two VERY different states….)


  10. I believe you. Heck, I believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, and Peter Pan. Why not a mermaid/shark/dolphin/shadow in the waves? Or, you had one too many mimosas. (I can say that because we are friends. 😉 )

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  11. Oh Pam, I so get this. It almost PHYSICALLY hurts me when I meet young kids who don’t ‘believe’. Of course I do!!! As a child I used to stare down into the ocean when I was on boats and tell my parents if they weren’t kind to me I was going to dive in and live with the Merfolk 😉 I also have a dear friend whose twin daughters go mermaid spotting every time they go to the coast. I hope you get to ‘meet’ her again. Love and magic, Harula xxx


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