Dropped Chelsea off at the Humboldt County of Education office so she could take the California High School Proficiency Exam and get on with her life. Dropped Kaylee off at horseback riding. Took Nick to Moonstone where the air was still, the sun bright, the morning full of promise.

We saw one of Nick’s friends, this kid who is not only a solid surfer, but also an excellent baseball player, triathlete… etc.

The sets rolled in about shoulder-high to me and further out than I like taking the kids. When they were little, we’d always stay close to shore, but now they’ve been doing this long enough and are big enough, they want to be in the line-up. This is nice in theory, but in reality, I worry once they’re out of my comfort zone. I decided to take an optimistic approach, hope that this would be a new breakthough day for Nick. Maybe his biggest wave ever!

We fought through the initial lines of whitewater, not easy when you only weigh 80 pounds. The same buoyancy that helps Nick catch waves so easily works against him when he’s trying to go the other way. But we made it out.

The size of the waves, some of which were head-high to me, actually, unnerved him a bit, although he kept a brave face on. As they tend to do at Moonstone, the waves kept breaking just a little further out, so we spent the first few minutes just trying to get our bearings until we were the furthest people from shore.

I do not like that at all.

So I suggested to Nick he catch one on his belly, just to get a feel for them. He quickly agreed; a wave came rolling in, crumbled, took him away. I caught the next one for a short ride and then had to paddle toward where he’d ended up closer to shore. As I reached him, another wave came at us, which Nick decided to paddle for.

Unfortunately, we were in the inside impact zone now, where the waves reform and break hard against the shallow bottom. While the ones on the outside remain in an “A” shape while breaking, these curl up into a “C” shape more quickly. Nick was sucked backward into the “C,” where he then experienced the classic surfer moment of going “over the falls.” I winced in anticipation of him coming up sputtering and freezing from the water being flushed through his suit. Which he did – but he also screamed this scream as if something was attacking him. My heart stopped; my brain noticed he was in far too shallow of water for a shark, although I still ran other possible predators through my mind as I struggled toward him.

No bites – but maybe from a boy’s point of view, worse. The board’s fin had slammed into his… er… delicate boy parts. He continued screaming and crying in pain. I hugged him, told him “breathe, breathe” and hauled the boards out of the water. I made a mental note that least two doctors were around and helped Nick trudge through the sand to a private spot by a rock, where we checked things out. (I hoped no one saw us, got the wrong impression and called the cops!) No blood, no obvious wounding.

Nick was done with surfing at this point, though, and the wind had come up, chasing all the surfers out of the water.

We called it a day.