Friday, August 16, 2013

Superfluous Adults

I spent a lot of my childhood with my siblings down the ravine behind our house.  In summer, we found salamanders under rocks and built dams across the foot-deep stream.  In the winter, we slogged our way down the snowy slope to crack through the ice and always came home with wet snowpants.  And while my mom knew where we were, she was hardly lurking behind every tree.

Solving fractions and finding popcorn words.
So I kind of feel bad for my kids.  Living aboard means we get to spend a lot of fun time together, but it also means that they have a tough job escaping us.  They don't even get to have school without me.  If we wanted to, Erik and I could hover over them every minute of every day - cruising truly is a helicopter parent's paradise.  But - call me crazy - I'd rather have the girls learn a little independence and get the chance to make their own mistakes.

(In answer to a suggestion I just made, Indy retorted, "Can't you do anything without bossing me around?"  So I guess this is still a work in progress.)

Point being, we all try to give each other space, and Erik and I do our best to turn a blind eye to certain goings-on aboard.  No one can relax with their parents peering at them every moment of every day.  I try very hard not to intervene in their nonsense short of imminent danger.  And even then, a scrape or bump is a much more effective lesson than me "bossing them around."
Fingernail: lost to car door.  Knee: scooter-related abrasion.  Smile: because, big deal.

Which is why, when we discovered Stylish with a magnifying glass and some tea lights on the front deck, we let her be.  Erik limited himself to asking her not to burn holes in the deck; our paintwork has suffered enough already.
Physics at work.
Similarly, when I came across the girls in the process of building a microphone (top photo), I walked on.  Stylish got a little pocketknife in the Galapagos last year, and, through trial and error, figured out how to use it without losing a digit.  I had my doubts about this particular project, but I decided to let her be.

Five minutes later, Stylish came to me, wide-eyed and a little teary.  She had nicked her wrist.

"Hmm," I said, looking at the small cut.  How much blood-of-my-blood have I seen over the years?  Forget the cost of the rigging - we could go poor on bandaids alone.
"Am I going to need stitches?"  Her voice hitched a little.
"No, but let's patch you up."
As I dug through the cabinet for the Polysporin, Stylish inspected her wound.  "Dad's fishing knife was hard to use on that thick plastic."
"I'll bet."
"I think next time I'll poke a hole through first and use scissors, maybe."
"Good idea."

Soon enough they will be using the little 4hp motor to toodle around the anchorage.  Or will break out the sailing dinghy to visit their friends.  I'm glad for them. I feel lucky to have gotten to watch my girls grow up from up close, but I know that they need me to be far away, too.  So I'll be around the corner, trying to let them do their own thing.

At least until they want another bandaid.


Mitchell World Tour said...

Love it Amy. I can relate, although I love our together time, finding personal space and any shred of independence in a packed to the rafters CRV is quite challenging. The girl's 'independent' science inquiry didn't draw blood but I did have to pay for a replacement Teflon pot, unfortunately a bandaid wasn't going to do the trick there.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that you & Erik are indeed finding a good balance with the girls.

I always loved the little creatures that the 4 of you would bring up from the ravine.