Taking a child sailing is a risky business. Death traps lurk everywhere. I won’t recount all of them as I don’t want to upset myself, but the biggest risk, the one that is always uppermost in my mind, is falling overboard and drowning in Davy Jones’ Locker. I am especially nervous about this after seeing the man with the long, tentacle beard in Pirates of theCaribbean -I still have nightmares about him.
Needless to say in order to avoid Dash meeting creepy slim beard Ross and I have installed a healthy fear of the sea into our young son.
“ Careful darling… Hold on tight…..Harness on NOW….. No playing on deck without Mama or Papa….. Sit still in the dingy…. Life jacket on….No running on the jetty”
And other parental demands were issues to Dashkin daily as we sailed the Spanish Maine. Aside from losing a few spoons and toy cars over the side, he was, on the whole compliant. (Anyone with kids knows that constant reinforcement and reminding turns your children from cavemen into socialised human beings.)
The time on enabled us to spend hours reading to him, playing music, dancing, drawing, looking at maps, and identifying pelicans, egrets, and boobies. I’m a first time mother and as such I check his progress against the milestones he should be reaching for his age, I worry about his bowels, his insect bites, his teeth. In no way would I describe myself as a helicopter mother, but you can’t help being VERY involved in the minutiae of everyone’s lives whilst living on board. Fart and the whole boat knows.
Now we are living with Jan and David we have relaxed a bit and spend hours in their wonderfully deep 32 degree swimming pool.
I love splashing about in it but for the last six weeks Dashkin refused to get into the pool, no amount of cajoling, bribery or ultimatums worked , he preferred frying his little white feet on the blistering hot tiles.
“No way Mama”
“Not get in water”
Not wanting him to develop a phobia about water ( well more than he already has!) I backed off. After a mother and son chat we agreed that he would wear his water wings if he was anywhere near the pool and I, in turn would stop banging on about getting in the crystal blue water.
All went well until last Thursday afternoon; while I was aqua jogging (mucking about really) Dash dipped his big toe in. He made his way slowly down the steps, counting all the way… “one step”… his knees were wet….. “two step”… his tummy was wet… until he reached the third step and he was up to…. his CHINNY CHIN CHIN. I spied him on Step 2 and aqua sprinted back towards him, my heart thumping in my bikini clad chest as I went. Instead of the terrified cry I was expecting he giggled.
“ Look Mama, I in water!”
“ Wohoooo go Dash that is great” swimming up next to him and giving him a kiss.
“ Mama dive okay?”
Next thing ya know we are playing a great game where he throws these things and I dive for them. I’m not sure who was having more fun, Dash or I?
I was extremely proud of him for getting to step three , (this was enough to justify a celebratory glass of wine) but Dashkin had set his sights higher. He wanted to float. Out we went in the ‘deep’ he was clutching my neck and digging his little toes into my stomach and then…. he let go. ‘Look Mama I floating!” I had never seen him look so happy and proud of himself. I got all teary eyed and praised him like I should.
It’s only been two years, but I’ve discovered there is lots of guilt involved in being someone’s Mum, there’s the worry, sleepless nights and constant vigilance, there’s the tantrums and the stress, but when a little face beams at you and looks to you for approval, adoration and love all that melts into the background. Yesterday Iwatched as my son launched himself into the deep, and I think that is pretty bloody wonderful.
Here’s to you Dashkin Rimu Alexander Blacksmith.