Home / Why OakHaven / The Perfect Sandcastle


by Judy Henrichs, Head of School
My ankles began to disappear. The tide rhythmically lured the sand from beneath my feet and, with each pulse, insisted that I go deeper into the shore. If I stood very still, would I just keep getting shorter and shorter? How far could I ride this elevator into the earth?

A young boy of 6 or 7 next to me caught my eye. We were together on the same journey of discovery, me watching my feet disappear, him mesmerized by the drainage patterns the tide was creating in his very elaborate sand fort. He squealed with delight as the new reinforcement he patted into place created a disappearing pool in the center courtyard but withstood the rhythmic attack of the waters. He beamed as he saw my smile, excited that someone had witnessed and appreciated his great victory over the sea.

And then mother arrived. In a language I didn’t recognize, she clearly let him know how foolish he was for building his fort so close to the sea. He tried to explain the joy of his great victory, but mother took his hand and insisted that he back up on the sand where the tide wouldn’t touch his creation. She sat him down with a cup, showing him the “right” way to build a sandcastle with an even row of cup-shaped mounds.

With every instruction and correction of his “mistakes” the joy on his face washed out from under him a bit more. He soon sat quietly and lifelessly, following mom’s step by step rules on how to build the perfect sandcastle. He glanced longingly as his now unguarded fort fell prey to the lure of the tide.

I learned much today. I learned that I probably wouldn’t just go straight down into the earth, even if I stood very still in the tide. I learned that the perfect sandcastle is exactly the one that this child has created in this moment. And most importantly, I learned not to interfere with that perfect creation.