Maui Musings

The Wahine Writes

A Dolphin Sunset Studded Birthday

Written By: Jueli - Jul• 19•11

Chalk Drawing Wishes Haydn a Happy Fourth Birthday

Friday night was my son’s last evening as a three-year-old. He reminded his sister, dad, and me of this fact more than 50 times, lest we forget. At dawn the next day, he roused the roosters, shot straight out of bed, and crowed at the top of his lungs: “I’m foooour! I’mmmmmm fooour!”  (If it wasn’t so delightful it would be infuriating.)

Within minutes he’s bouncing on the bed and then running down the hall to see if there is a surprise for him (there is.) He pulverizes the stack of wrapped boxes stopping just in time to pull the gifts out before they’re smashed. He’s awed by the rodeo theme—hat, rope, stuffed calves, a few barrels, and a saddle of his own. “‘Radio,’” he yells. “My own ‘radio!!’” My man hopes the birthday getup will take him off the hook from playing the “rodeo game,” where boy chases dad until dad falls on ground and boy ties up his feet like a calf. Surprisingly, my man never says no to the game, though he wishes he would.

Immediately, the cushions are tossed on the floor and my boy is setting up the “radio”.

“Look at me, Mom.

“Mom, Dad, Sissy, look at me.

“Look at ME! Hey, look at me,” he persists until all three of us focus exclusively on his enthusiasm and his horse. He swings the rope in a lasso circle and yells at the top of his lungs.

The cell phone is ringing with grandparents’ good wishes as we try to feed, dress, and then move the kids out the door. The birthday boy’s wish for the day is be on a boat and to go roller skating. We’re heading out for a dolphin expedition on the Maui’s west side.

Being on the water is enough excitement for me and my children. But this three-hour cruise guarantees wild dolphin sitings or “your next ride is free.” Secretly, I’m hoping not to see dolphin so that we’d benefit from another day cruising atop blue water.

I’m asked continuously, “You see anything, Mom?” He pouts and leans his head heavily against my arm, “I haven’t seen anything, Mom.” I point out lava cliffs and birds, tell the story of the long ago abandoned pineapple field island we’re sliding beside. I point to the shimmering sun streaking across water so blue that you have to blink before regaining focus.

Crystal Blue Water above the 200-Foot Deep Ocean Bed

But there aren’t any dolphins. Until, suddenly there are.

Spinner Dolphin Draft off the Bow

We move quickly when the naturalist announces that a small school of spinner dolphins is headed our way. The kids crouch up front just as the pod begins drafting off the bow of the boat. Seven of them, including a babe alongside its mama, dips and spins and jumps before us.

“Last year two turtles came to wish you a happy birthday, and this year the dolphins came for you,” my girl yells excitedly into the wind at her brother. My man and I take our eyes off the dolphin for a split second. We always wonder if spending every birthday of his life 2,100 miles across the sea, far from family and friends, is fair to our boy. In this moment we silently concur: It is.

Baby Spinner Flips for Haydn's Fourth

Sooner than our exhilaration wanes, the pod moves away from our two-deck ferry. We pick up speed and head to the shoreline against five-foot rolling swells. I have to chew ginger and sip ale to keep my stomach from lurching.

My girl pronounces the obvious with a smile stretched to full capacity, “The waves are fun unless you feel sick!”

Happy Birthday to You...

Later, we share a birthday milkshake, drive to the south shore, play in a park, and adjust my boy’s skates, which we had picked up for 50 cents at a garage sale earlier in the summer. We roll toward the entrance of the outdoor roller skating rink just when it should be opening. The fence is locked behind a small wooden sign that reads, “Closed July 16 for renovations.” Disappointment hovers over the moment, but all my boys says is: “I’m too tired to roller skate.”

We all are too exhausted to do much of anything, and we still have a 45-minute drive back to the North Shore. We cruise along the scenic beachfront route in silence.

“Let’s jump in,” my man says, half joking and so tired that his words nearly slur.  Without asking for much confirmation, I flip a U-turn and park adjacent to the sand. We change into suits and run toward the shoreline.

“It’s not cold! It’s not cold!” the new four-year-old shouts as he whips his body into the frothy foam wave.  He stands up, runs across the beach, and starts to dramatically strum his imagined air guitar, hair flying left and right, short syllables of made up songs pounding against the shoreline.

We swim and laugh and play in the Pacific as the blue and white cloud-filled sky slowly turns yellow and green and then extraordinary orange.

The Sun Bids Us Adieu, and a "Many, Many, More Happy Birthdays to You."

“This day was all about me,” my boy says with a smile.

It’s the first day of his four-year-old life.

Happy Birthday.



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  1. arlene garfinkle says:

    What a lovely way to celebrate Haydn’s Birthday!
    Something he will always remember.

    Love, Mom

  2. Tesilya says:

    Love, love, loved every magical word, image and sentiment
    of Haydn’s birthday post.

  3. Cyrise Beatty Schachter says:

    So Beautiful Jueli….
    Wow! I love your blog, and send you all a hug….

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