I thought the three-year-old would marvel at the boat when she saw it. But no, she was scared of it. When handed down from the dock to the stern deck by her father, she gripped my forearms tightly. Then she walked down into the cabin and sat quietly on the V berth, kind of staring around, still in her life jacket.
The one-year-old was carried aboard and down to the cabin, de-jacketed, and promptly crawled across the table, plopped onto the bench seat, slid to the floor, climbed the three steps that lead to the stern deck, and fell backward to the cabin floor when the boat rocked as her grandfather stepped aboard. Her personal distress call was promptly cut short by her mother who bared her breast for a little comfort feeding.
"Not quite the warm welcome you were expecting, Captain?" (Quoting Soval from Star Trek Enterprise, of course.) Well, no. But the new pink Barbi fishing pole I had bought her placated the three-year-old, especially when her older brother started teaching her how to cast it over the stern. Cast it she did. The pole flew out of her hand and sank into the murky water that had been stirred up by a recent storm.
It was Grandpa's suggestion that we use the boat hooks to find that pole before we tried to back out of the slip. Good call. A propeller wrapped in fishing line is not a good thing. We hung over the stern dragging the boat hooks through the mud around the propeller, fishing for the fishing pole. One of us snagged the line. Pulling up the line, the pole was soon extracted, cleaned, and stowed. A new boat rule (likely the first of many more rules) was proclaimed: no more 'fishing' within the slip.
There is something not so compatible between toddlers and boats. I am beginning to think that Captain Picard (from Star Trek - The Next Generation) had it right - children do not belong on ships. Or on boats. Or in cars, for that matter. But we hardly can keep them out of cars unless we roll back time a whole century.
These two toddlers, despite exasperating incidents, will grow up with this boat. In a couple of years, they will be climbing fearlessly all over it like a pair of monkeys. They will learn to pilot a 5 net ton vehicle that has no brakes, with skill, before they are allowed behind the wheel of a car. They will learn to read the weather, the waves, the lights of other boats at night. And they will catch many edible size fish and learn not to be squimish about cleaning them.
Despite the inauspicious beginning, I think grandparents could do worse then help raise kids around boats.
The toddlers in question:
The toddlers with older brother Dylan who will teach them to fish:
Big sister Image says cooking relaxes her. She will teach the toddlers how to cook food on a boat. Here are the toddlers with older sister Image: