I’m not sure how most parents mark the passing of their kid’s years but for us, alongside the height marks on the wall, and the outgrown shoes, we’ve noticed Maia’s developing maturity by changes in our anchoring routine.There was a time when she was very wee that when the moment came to anchor I’d strap her into her car seat and try to chant to myself, ‘it’s for the good of the boat’ while Maia protested very vocally and Evan tried to get my attention with hand signals before dropping the hook. Then came the stage where we would talk to her in advance, explaining she needed to play quietly and not interupt us with questions until the anchor was down and the engine was turned off. Sometimes if it was going to be complicated anchoring or docking we’d even pull out special toys.
“Is the engine off yet? No? Then please wait to talk to us.”
By the time she was seven she knew the drill and would tuck herself away with a book until the boat was silent and settled, and then we could look out at the new neighbourhood together.
Then came the latest change, “I’d like to learn to anchor the boat.”
Our parenting style falls somewhere between ‘high expectations’ and ‘childhood is short and the magic should be protected’. What this means is when Maia brought home a recent report card we barely looked at it but asked if she’s having fun learning and is getting everything out of school she hoped. On the boat it means we expect her to help with every chore but if her imaginary mermaid friend wants to help too, we’ll get both of them a scrub brush.
So through the years Maia has ‘helped’ but it was more about teaching her how to do things, and how to be part of a crew, than actually getting things done. Recently though this has changed. Along with bigger feet, and a height mark on the wall I no longer have to bend down to make, the way Maia helps us indicates she’s growing up. When we were hauled out to paint the bottom the quantity and quality of her contribution caught us both off guard. But it wasn’t until we went out sailing afterward that we really saw that our little girl had grown into a sailor.
And as she set the anchor and helped stow away gear, and made her friend feel at home and taught her how to use everything on the boat, we discovered we're sailing with a very different person than we arrived in Australia with. And I couldn’t help but feel proud and amazed.
“I’m not sure a boat will be my dream when I’m an adult,” Maia told me one evening as we watched the sun set beyond our anchorage, “but it’s a good way to grow up.”
|scenes from our latest trip out|