M. SCOTT MORRIS: Girl’s eyes turn to the sea

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

Every now and then, I tell my daughter a story about the day she was born a little more than a decade ago.
That’s the day Olivia earned her reputation for being stubborn because she refused to show herself until Dr. Mark Kellum used his special stainless steel salad tongs to guide her toward the light.
“They weren’t salad tongs,” Olivia said. “Were they, Mommy?”
“No,” her mother said. “You know how your daddy is.”
I paused to stare at my wife and wordlessly say, “Stop messing with my fun, lady.”
“Tell me about my eyes,” Olivia ordered.
“You had gray eyes,” I said.
“And they were looking all over the place,” she said.
“That’s right,” I said.
“Because I wanted to see what was going on,” she said.
“I’m not sure how much you could see then, but you were looking,” I said.
“I was like, What’s all this about?” she said.
That was a big day for us – not when I told the story, but the day the story happened. It was my first chance to hang out with Olivia without her mother getting in the way, and I was so impressed by whatever desire or instinct kept those eyes moving around the room. Some internal compass inside her was saying, “Pay attention.” That had to be a good sign for her first day amongst the rest of us mortals.
If you don’t mind, let’s fast-forward through an action-packed decade of ups and downs to last weekend, when the family made a quick trip to Gulf Shores, Ala.
Our 7-year-old, Evan, has two boogie boards. One’s for him and the other, he said, was for me. It was a nice gesture, but at this point in my life, I need more buoyancy than it provides.
For the uninitiated, a boogie board is a foam raft that holds your top half above water while your legs dangle to attract sharks. You need to hit the wave just right to get a good ride into the beach.
To get a feel for how ready Evan was to step into the water, picture a little boy’s room with two boogie boards on prominent display. I can’t count the number of boogie board conversations he and I had during the weeks leading up to our trip. If Santa Claus walked between Evan and the Gulf of Mexico when we arrived, Santa would’ve found himself knocked into the sand.
Olivia didn’t care about boogie boarding at first, but decided to try. I helped her line up a few waves, then she took over. After she made several successful rides to the beach, I walked up to her. She grinned with every tooth she had and said, “Diddy!” But the grin didn’t last, nor did her immediate concern for “Diddy.”
Those eyes – a beautiful brown has long replaced the gray – were focused out over the Gulf of Mexico. She was wide awake and serious about her fun, looking left and right for the next wave, the next ride. Maybe I’ll tell her a story about it someday.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.