I was at the beach yesterday. I walked down to the edge of the water to put my feet in and when I got there, there were two little kids gloriously playing in the water.

They were just having so much fun, pushing their faces in the waves and rolling in the sand. The little girl saw me, got up and came to me like she was going to hug me. She held my hand instead. She felt the love and appreciation coming from me.

I thought in that moment how much power that gave me over this little person. You see, she hasn't had the heartaches that comes along with being alive for a longer period of time.

She hasn't pushed that little spirit down yet. She feels it, the love, the life and she goes after it. She doesn't have much scar tissue over her heart yet. It's open, maybe too open. Maybe she just needs a little healthy skepticism, and maybe, instead of scar tissue, that's what we all need.

I thought I needed to protect myself at all costs with a rigidity that was unbearable. I was wrong. What I needed was love and communication. And most importantly , what I needed was for someone to see me.

This little girl saw me. She asked me why I was wearing a hat. She was African American and I'm a really white girl. Then, she touched my belly button piercing and told me that her aunt had the same thing.

She was figuring out how we were the same and how we were different. She was so open to the curiosity of the intimacy that comes along with seeing another person. She saw me, which, in turn, made her see herself.

After a few minutes, her Mom came to the edge of the water. I thought, Good, she cares about her little munchkin. She wanted to see who was talking to her daughter, as she should have.

But then, I realized her Mom was afraid of the water. The little girl asked me to go out a lil further with her because her Mom wouldn't. We did.

When we got out a little further she told me that she had sand in her bathing suit and kept pulling at her private parts.

I could see that she did not want to be doing it, but she didn't know what to do about the sand.
See, she had a healthy respect for her own privacy — she just didn't have a solution.

I thought, Gosh, don't tell her not to touch herself (by all means don't shame her, encourage her). Tell her to dunk under the water, pull her bathing suit to the side, let the sand out and then stand up.

She did it and her face lit up — she was free. Free with boundaries and privacy and respect.

You see kids have all that inside. They know the truth they just need a little guidance. The damage comes when the adults push their fears on the kids.

The adults have the fear because no one before them knew how to give them a healthy, free, protective choice.

I hope maybe the few minutes I spent with that little girl will help her not be afraid of the water. I hope she will know how to be private in public for the rest of her life.