Friday, July 27, 2007

Up the Tred Avon River (a lesson)

We had an amazing summer sail on the Chesapeake Bay this past Saturday - we being my father, myself and my five year old son (above). We were on Dad's 46' Morris sloop, which was being hauled the following Monday for maintenance, and exceedingly blessed with wind, blue skies and moderate, humidity-free temperatures. Not a typical mid-summer day on the Bay. Beyond the delight I had in the all too rare experience of being under sail on a perfect day...I came off the water profoundly grateful to have been able to share such a pleasant time with two of the most important people in my life. Our family is not given to platitudes, but for a few short hours the world was my father and my son and a steady breeze. Three generations of us short tacking together up the Tred Avon River.

I know that my son fathomed - in his own way - the special quality of our time together that afternoon because of something that happened later, after the sail. When we picked the mooring back up I let him know that I'd take him to the dock and then come back in the dinghy for "Big Dad" as he calls his Grandfather, who was busily putting the yacht to right. I dropped the boy off and told him to go find his Mother then joined Dad back on the boat to help as I could. Back at the house the boy asked why we'd taken so long to come off the boat.

"I was helping your Granddad put the Red Admiral to bed," I said. Instantly his jaw set and he angrily stomped into the other room. I followed. "What's wrong?"

"Dad," he said, trying to hold the anger but now on the edge of tears. "That's not fair. I wanted to help too. Why did you drop me off and go back without me?"

"I'm sorry," I said, understanding. It had been the three of us together on the water and it should have been the three of us coming off of it. He knew, perhaps instinctively, that you don't give something like that up before you absolutely have to.

And I knew, with the perspective of accumulated years, that when we were no longer able to spend time together in this way, I'd be thankful my son had taught me this lesson.


Carol Anne said...

That's the magic of five-year-olds ... they see things so differently than we adults do, and a lot of the time, their vision is clearer -- it hasn't been cluttered by the thoughts of the gazillion things that need to get done, properly and quickly.

We adults often underestimate our children's abilities -- we forget that they're getting bigger and more capable, and we may also forget to have the patience to deal with their learning curve -- we want to get the boat put away quickly, while the child might get in the way and slow things down.

But a five-year-old is eager to help, especially when helping his Granddad, and you're right, the time together is what counts. Sure, there may be snags, but those are worth the trouble.

My son is now 17, and I've had him helping me with household tasks since he was a toddler. He's a mature, well-grounded young adult. Even when he was in the rebellious part of his teen years, we could work together in the kitchen and everything was good. You don't want to lose out on those kinds of moments.

BTW, these kids just grow up too fast -- it seems like just a few months ago that my kid was 5. Savor every moment.

Zephyr (Sail) said...

Thank you for your kind comment carole ann...I always appreciate hearing from you!