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The drive to Tybee is always fun. The long stretch of marsh on one side of the road and the shipping channel on the other make all Savannahians proud to live in our coastal city near the beach.

My family has a special tradition on the drive to the beach. When we approach Waves Surf Shop, the first person who sees the shark yells, “SHARK!” Then everyone joins in. The competition is fierce, and the winner loves to gloat. We can be in mid-sentence, or most of the time, mouths full of snacks. But no matter what, we all yell out in unison. When the kids were little, all seven children were in the back of our 12-passenger van, and the screams were deafening. However, our numbers and vehicle size dwindled over the past few years as the older ones left the nest. And although it’s not as loud, it’s still the tradition.

So, when the weather turned warm a couple of weeks ago, we all piled into the “little van,” the seven-seater. We rolled down the windows and drove towards the beach. As we approached Waves Surf Shop, everyone was eerily quiet. I turned to look at the kids, but not one of them called out for the shark. My heart fell. Like the many wonderful things children outgrow, had they forgotten this one? Or had they grown up so much that they no longer found it exciting?

Knowing that I wasn’t ready to find out what happens when a ten-foot hanging shark isn’t properly acknowledged, I swallowed down the lump in my throat and belted out, “SHARK!!!!” Shocked by my outburst, they instantly yelled out, “Shark,” in response and scanned the street searching for him with smiles on their face.

As parents, it’s hard to watch our children grow up. Just like it was hard for our parents to watch us. Some things we have to let go of. But it’s our duty to stay in their face and often remind them of special family moments. For my children, when they pass the giant shark for the first time in Spring, they will know that summer is coming, the beach is near, and their mama loves them with all her heart.

Happy Spring, everyone!

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