Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cruising with kids

Day 3: Rhode River to Little Wicomico Creek, Chesapeake Bay

We've been traveling slowly, around 8 mph, until we saw this on the horizon.
Hans put the throttle down so we could get to the anchorage before the skies opened up. 

Instead the storm blew north and south of us and we got a great sunset.

You know those internet/facebook cartoons: “what my parents think I do all day, what my boss thinks I do all do...what I really do all day…”? Here’s the cruising with kids one:

What I thought cruising with kids would be like:
  • Hanging out on the bridge/in the cockpit as we motor/sail along; the kids are happily fishing or reading or otherwise entertained.
  • Reading a book underway while the kids play in the vee-berth.
  • Playing down below for a couple hours then the kids nap while we read books underway or simply watch the horizon.
  • Anchoring early and relaxing on the back deck while the kids swim off the back of the boat.
A peaceful moment, which lasted all of 3 minutes.

An iconic image of cruising with kids.
(And our boat docked in front of our friends' house)

What cruising with kids is really like:
  • Both girls need 100% attention all the time. The boat also needs 100% attention. Hans gives the boat his attention, I give the girls my attention. But there are two kids and only one me, so invariably one of them is whining and crying while the other one demands x,y, or z.
  • So far the time they have been happily entertained alone, aka that elusive activity called “independent play,” has totaled about 10 minutes.
  • The one time I put both the girls in the vee-berth so we could anchor without them underfoot, I peeked in through the hatch and saw Freja first pulling on Matilda and then kicking her.
  • Even though we’re traveling with our home, we’re still traveling. Their schedules and natural clocks are off and we’ve rarely been able to coordinate their naps...meaning that, inevitably, one kid is always awake.
  • We have yet to anchor early. Partly our own fault for being eager, excited, and motivated to get miles under the keel, also because the weather has been great for motoring so we’re taking advantage of calm days.
One cool boat kid.
And her big sister in the dinghy.

All the boat kids we met when we were cruising on Whisper were awesome. Well-spoken, smart, mature, capable. I never gave the parents enough credit. I always thought that it was the environment that produced such great kids. But, a mere four days after leaving Philadelphia, now I know. It’s the parents. It’s the parents for taking their kids out of the easy world of houses, apartments, condos, grocery stores, schools, and neighbors. It’s the parents for turning their family’s world upside down and then providing the space for the kids to thrive. 

Parenting aboard a moving boat is much, much harder than I ever imagined it would be. Partly because I have a preconceived notion of what cruising is all about - those carefree, pre-kid days when our bank account was flush with cash and we were only responsible to ourselves - but partly because we have changed our girls’ “normal” and they don’t get what we are doing. Freja knows that we are slowly, ever so slowly, moving our boat to Jacksonville, but who knows if she really understands what that means. Poor Matilda, she just learned to walk and now her walking platform is literally moving underneath her. She is easily frustrated and injured and, as a result, I’ve pulled the ring sling out from the back of a closet and have started holding her in that more often.

Good days are really good. The other day we motored for nine straight hours in flat clam and we played and napped and ate and everyone was happy. But we’re still figuring it out. Not every day is flat calm and not everyone is happy all the time; parenting kids while underway requires more patience and hands-on work than I ever imagined. 

Freja petting Vuvu.

Jon teaching Freja how to squeeze limes.

Freja chasing Vuvu; Anne chasing Freja.

Getting ready for a feast: salad with local mussels and pan fried flounder.

Fun times with friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment