Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Apparently, I Am A Boater.

Posted on | September 22, 2012 | 5 Comments

Every once in a while you have to change your mind about something.  Just to keep your life fresh and exciting.  And also to confuse those around you.

Take boating, for example.  For years I thought I was not a boater.  Oh, The Other Half has friends with boats and we’ve been out on the lake a time or two.  Which was enough to convince me that I did not like boating.

There was a lot of speeding around with water splashing in your face.  People were pulled behind the boat on all types of inflatables—the point of this being to drive as fast and erratically as possible until the person loses his or her grip and falls off.  Um,…awesome.

But that’s not even the best part of the process.  First, the kids must beg and beg and beg to be the first to ride the inflatable.  And then the kids complain the whole time they are waiting for their turn.  Next, when it is their turn, they will get scared and hesitate (and who wouldn’t after watching the person before them take a huge wave to the face and fly off, untethered, into the wake zone) and say they don’t want to go anymore.  Commence the convincing and coaxing of the child by the male parties on board to attempt riding the inflatable while all the female parties are forced to avoid the child’s terrified and pleading eyes.  Finally, 1 of 3 glorious results occurs:

1.  The child rides the inflatable and begins screaming as soon as the boat takes off, completely humiliating him or herself

2.  He or she survives the ride but climbs back aboard the boat and begins silently weeping over the various skinned or water-burned parts of the body obtained during the adventure.

3.  The child refuses to ride and then cries all the way home from the lake, insisting he or she was going to ride but nobody gave him or her a chance.

Fun.  Wow.

If you’re lucky enough to be aboard a boat that does not have an inflatable and tow rope, you could be subjected to careening around the lake at high speed until the boat slams into a sand bar or submerged tree limb, making a sound like the hull has been split open, and making you wish you had brought an old paperback as opposed to the library book that you will have to replace when the boat sinks.  You cannot save all 4 of your children plus the library book.  For that matter, you cannot save all 4 children at all and will be forced to choose your 2 favorites.  Which never goes over well.

Perhaps you can avoid the hitting of items that could potentially tear a hole in the boat.  But the inevitable need for boat-lake excitement will cause the driver to begin allowing the children to drive the boat.  My family still laughs about how a 4 year old Little drove the boat in tighter and tighter circles until we thought it would tip over.  Hardy.  Har.  Har.

Then there was the time when we avoided most of the boat racing and settled for gathering with other boaters in the “Cove.”  The boats pulled as close to the shore as possible so we could jump in and swim to shore while attempting to carry coolers and foldable chairs over our heads.  Once we had established ourselves on the muddy shore, we could sit in our soaked chairs, listening to 8 different radio stations blaring from various boats, while swatting the mosquito-laden air, and watching people stumble into the scrubby pines on the Cove to go to the bathroom.  Coves do not come with manmade bathroom facilities.  As a special reward for suffering through enjoying that particular lake day, the entire family spent the next 2 days suffering through enjoying vomiting and diarrhea.  I’m not a scientist but I bet it had something to do with swimming in a cove full of stagnant water enhanced with boat fuel, bilge, leftover bait, fish guts, and the urine of a thousand toddlers and drunken boaters.  Can you say E. Boating coli??

To add insult to injury, I have noticed that boating tends to be an activity heavily populated by men with girlfriends or second wives.  Call me crazy but I do not really enjoy putting my married-for-13-years thighs next to the just-finished-grad-school-and-dating-a-man-1o-years-older-than-her thighs on a boat.  Especially my married-for-13-years thighs in a swimsuit on a boat.

Although this occasionally has some benefits.  One time one of our boating friend’s latest girlfriend spent the entire time playing with my kids—catching them in the water as they jumped off the side of the boat and fixing their hot dogs to their exact demands—while I sat in the captain’s chair, reading my book, and eating SunChips.  I think she was trying to impress the man with her maternal instincts and youthful energy.  Eventually another first wife arrived at the scene and joined me.

“Who’s that with your kids?”  she asked.

I explained the situation.

“Excellent,”  she said and sent her boys off to the play with the young woman, too.  I think that woman eventually ended up supervising 7 or 8 children.  In the water.  While we sat in the boat, high and dry, cackling merrily, and finishing the bag of SunChips.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it, youthful energy.

But that amusing occasion notwithstanding,  I had written off boating as a hobby for crazed and/or drunken participants only.  My boat excursions were limited to the the paddle boats and the $1 pontoon boat tour given by retired citizens at the local water reservoir.

Until yesterday.  Yesterday I discovered there was an enjoyable way to go boating.  Even boating with children.

Yesterday my father invited me and the boys onto his boat for a day of some cruising and fishing.  I was hesitant at first.  My father has been rebuilding his boat for the past couple years.  All of his prior excursions have involved driving the boat out into the lake and then rowing or being towed back to shore.  As far as I’m concerned rowing back to shore rates right up there with the towing of inflatables.  Previously, The Other Half had been assisting in the boat renovations.  And the rowing.  I remained at home so that they would have someone to regale with their exciting boat-fixing and boat-stranded stories.  Because that’s the kind of supportive family member that I am.

But the boys are out of school on their 3 week break right now.  Which meant I had to keep them entertained all day.  And I had already made plans for them to sit quietly at the nail salon, playing Poptropica, and eating McDonald’s while I got a pedicure.  So I figured they were entitled to a bit of fresh air, fishing, and boating.  Plus, if push came to row, they could take a turn with the oars.

It never came to that.

The boat ran like a dream.  The lake was filled with herons and turtles sunning themselves on logs and even a bald eagle soaring in the sky.  All the things you never see when you are racing through the water at 50 mph, one eye looking forward for other boaters and one eye looking back to see if a rider has fallen off the inner tube yet.  But we saw them as we cruised along at a comfortable 10-15 mph.

There was no water splashing in our faces.  Instead, the boys could lean over the water, trailing their fingers in its coolness, watching the ripples and designs flow out behind them.

We did not attempt to wade into coves, but stationed ourselves in a shady spot of the lake and fished off the boat.

And some of the fish were even biting.

Oh, we had a few scary moments.  The boat took a few tries to start up when we got there.  Someone cast their fishing line into a tree.  But the scariest of all was when I looked at the child I had borrowed for the day to entertain my boys and realized he was a white child.  I am not so good with the care of white children.  Thanks to my Hispanic heritage, my children turn from cream to beige in early spring.  By May they are a lovely caramel and by June they are headed for chocolate covered almond.  So other than the occasional cover up of noses and ears when we are at the beach, I don’t worry about sunscreen after April.

Unfortunately for me, the boys’ friend was not so much chocolate covered almond as peaches and cream.  With some freckles thrown in for good measure.  And it was only as I snapped his picture that I saw him through the view finder, squinting against the bright sun, and remembered that white children are supposed to be kept covered in sunscreen.

My heart began to pound.  The only thing worse than when your child is in danger is when someone else’s child, that they have entrusted to you for the day, is in danger.  That’s why you speed all the time when your children are in the car but not when you are driving someone else’s child home from school.  That’s why if you find yourself short a car seat when your kids have friends over, your child ends up sitting, unrestrained, on the van floor, while his friend is safely strapped in.

Please, people.  You know you’ve done that.

When I asked my dad if he had sunscreen, he just shook his head.  But Middle knew right where it was.  He went straight to a small compartment up front and pulled out a tube of SPF 50.

“Grandma keeps some right here,” he announced.

Which just goes to show that no matter how old you are and how far away from home you are (even way out in the middle of the lake) your mom has still got your back.   Thanks, Mom.  Nice save.

Oh, the day didn’t go off without any hitches.  Little had a meltdown and kept taking off his life jacket.  He had to be pinned down and strapped in a couple times.

Finally, he was told he was going to miss a turn on the boat if he took it off again.  He still took it off.  Which is why he’s sitting at home with me now while The Other Half, Middle, and my dad are boating and fishing today.

Next time I am going to avoid punishing myself when punishing him.  Instead of making the naughty child (and, by default, me) miss an outing, I am thinking that any children that refuse to wear a life jacket will be tossed into the lake and left to swim behind the boat until they finally beg for someone to toss a life jacket to them.  My dad says the trolling motor is for moving slowly and quietly through the water without disturbing the fish when your poles are in the water.  I’m thinking the trolling motor is perfect for safely keeping the boat away from any children frantically treading water until they agree to keep their life jackets on at all times.

But maybe that’s just me.

In any case, there will have to be a punishment that doesn’t involve me missing out.  Because, apparently, I am a boater now and will be boating more often.  Since I like my dad’s style of boating.

He drives slowly.

He does not own any inflatables.

He knows how to fix a boat so that there is no rowing.

He is still on his first wife, my mom.

Also, my new purple pedicure looks very nice on his boat.

Which is probably reason enough.


5 Responses to “Apparently, I Am A Boater.”

  1. Leon Herbert
    September 23rd, 2012 @ 2:46 am

    I enjoy reading your articles. Makes me laugh. Hope all is well. Tell Nils that he has to stop driving around screaming at people walking in the park.

  2. Cheryl
    September 23rd, 2012 @ 7:31 am

    Been there done that, without the pedicure! Men just won’t slowly enjoy the water. We have had some good times on the lake but mostly when a female was driving and not trying to kill the person being towed!

  3. Jill
    September 23rd, 2012 @ 8:31 am

    B looks like he was entirely happy! Awesome day and awesome post. btw, I have an outgrown Spiderman vest if you need an additional kid one… Back to school tomorrow?

  4. lin
    September 23rd, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

    Oh, I think I could handle that boat. Friends of ours took us out on their spiffy new speedboat a couple of years ago. Dang, they were so excited to take us out—me, not so much. About an hour into the trip, I proceeded to projectile barf off the back of their boat–trying not to dirty up their new baby. Oh, I was soooo sick, but I didn’t want to barf on that damn thing.

    Not a good trip.

    And no, they have not invited me on it again. Thank goodness.

  5. Erika Robbins
    September 23rd, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    lol….I enjoyed boating with my folks on their sailboat. Similar situation. Emphasis on laid back and relaxed–no adrenaline thank you very much.

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