Because they attend a public charter school that follows an expeditionary learning model, the students have experiences together that include hiking, camping, rock climbing, snowshoeing, and as they get older, kayaking and mountain biking. Before their first camping trip at the start of the kindergarten year, Alex's teacher read a book called Necks Out For Adventure about a brave clam that dared to think outside the box to save himself and others. It was a perfect story for a group of 5-year olds on the brink of their first camping trip without their parents, or for some, their first night sleeping in a tent. Alex, who has always has a giggle at the ready when he sees clever writing or unique illustrations, loved the book.
One of the boys found a clam at the beach while we were camping on this most recent road trip, and brought it back to the campsite. It was closed; the little creature was still in there. I didn't pay attention to it until the morning that we were packing up camp to head out, but the shell opened a teeny bit, despite being out of the water for a couple of days. It was still alive in there.
I became fixated on this clam, absolutely desperate to get him back into the ocean, which was a hike away. As we folded up the tent and loaded the car, I found a moist, shady spot in the grass for him. I anxiously asked Sam when we could get going; it just seemed like a shame for him to have made it this long and not get back to where he belonged, and the minutes dragged on until we were finished and set off for our hike.
Alex held the clam and had the honor of returning him to the sea--and as he tossed him back into the rolling surf, he yelled, "Stick your neck out for adventure, Little Clammy Boy!".
I love that child so much my heart hurts.