The boys in our house our fasincated by lighthouses. It's how they often spend their special "Father-Son" time -- touring lighthouses. Sometimes they let Megan and I tag along. Yesterday was one of those days.
Living at the coast it's easy to find a lighthouse or two within a relatively short drive. This time our mission was to tour Twin Lights of Navesink. A deep brown monster of an edifice with two lit towers. One is square, the other is octoganal.
In the base of the building lies a small museum. Megan was quickly fascinated by the reflective lense on display. (As you can see in the photo.) She looked at the way it made small rainbows. She admired the faint image of herself. She seemed to even listen to the volunteer guide that explained how the lense helped magnify the light. She ran, gleefully, with her brother to see the larger than life full-sized lense in the small annexed building. They both admired it's glowing magic.
From there we headed out around the bend in the road to Sandy Hook. Near the end of this sliver of island that houses both a State Park beach and a decommissioned military base (Fort Hood), stands the oldest working lighthouse in the country. It's magestic and awe-inspiring...and closed to visitors under 48 inches tall. Logan is still bemoaning this fact. Yet they had fun inspite of it. We toured bunker remains and batteries. We walked in the cool shade of old trees and hard concrete slab walls. Above all else, we simply enjoyed the silliness of bad knock knock jokes and the constant chatter of two young kids.
It was growing late in the afternoon. Time to move home. We had two options for our drive - the big road with tolls but no traffic lights or the slightly smaller road with lights and beach traffic that ran along the coast. We opted for the scenic route. We stopped at one last lighthouse, a small brick house with a light a top .
This small house is only open for visits on a limited basis. This, was not one of those occasions. Instead we took time out to walk along the boards. There were no games at this particular spot. No rides or arcades. Just fresh ocean breezes and plenty of room to run. And run they did.
We took a break along the walk way in a little gazebo boasting two park benches - one sitting just ahead of the other. The kids scrambled up on the back bench with Dad. I quietly moved to the bench ahead of them. It made for a better spot to take their photo than sitting next to them.
I watched them for a few minutes before speaking. The beach always makes me a bit introspective - maybe it's the sound of the pounding waves or the smell of the salt air. Something about it tends to turn my thoughts inward than outward like a spiritual revival.
I thought about those lighthouses. I looked at my children. A conversation I had had earlier in the week came back to me in bits and pieces. How does one effectively grow a child with strong values and deep rooted beliefs? How does one create a good citizen? I had shrugged a little. I have ideas. I have notions put to practice but I have no live proof that it sticks for a lifetime. My two, will giving, caring, compassionate souls today are still so young. Who knows what really comes tomorrow.
I said something to that effect only a bit more vaguely, or succiently depending on your interpretation. I had it and then I replied - you need to model it. You need to "live" it. You need to BE it. You have to speak it, you have to tell them sure. But most importantly you need to be that beacon, that lighthouse in the dark, to show them the way.
This came to me again, the comparison between large lighted tower on the shore to parenting, when I saw that photo of Megan peering deep into the lense. Her reflection is so faint. Almost an aberration. You need to look close to see her small face in the large glass.
That's parenting. When a child leaves our pervue and starts to live life on their own, we are that reflection. As a child cleaves tight to their own self - defining their lives as they see fit, there is still that reflection we've left behind in their hearts, in their souls, in the back of their minds. It's always there and hopefully it's illuminating.