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How do I get my Kids to Fall in Love with the Sea?

I’ve had the most amazing summer learning to sail Grand Illusion II, a Beneteau 51, for seven days in the breathtaking Exuma Cays and becoming open water certified with PADI. Dreams really do come true.

I’ve loved the sea and boats for as long as I can remember and, growing up in Jamaica and living in The Bahamas, I’ve never been far from either. Now – finally – I get to live my dreams of solitary coves, brilliant blue as far as the eye can see, and that scent in the air that cannot be described or forgotten, the smell of freedom, of life at sea.

There’s only one problem, well two: my sons, ages nine and six. I thought they would be thrilled that their mom has learned to sail and eager to join me on my next trip. I was so wrong.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m determined to fix it. This summer both suddenly and inexplicably have a problem with the feel of sand. The younger declared, “I don’t like the beach because I get sand in places I’m not supposed to have sand in.”

What happened to the boys I took to the beach before they could sit up, who loved the sand, the sun, the water, except when it was really cold and I took them in anyway, after all, they better get used to it since they’re going to be two sailing, surfing, gloriously tanned free diving champions? Or so I thought.

I rarely watch TV, and the boys continue to ask why. My stock answer is there really isn’t anything on there that interests me. Enter Discovery’s Shark Week. What better way to spend summer days, if you can’t be at the beach? So I announce that Mommy’s watching TV this week. I’m overjoyed that we are together, piled in one bed one day, on one sofa the next, submerged in everything shark! The boys are interested, engaged, and brave, laughing at me when I scream and rolling their eyes when I cry.

The more we watch the more I look for signs that my two water babies are rediscovering the beauty and wonder of the sea. My hopes grow with their interest. Little do I realize that they are gathering further evidence to support their mutiny. Shark Week comes to an end and not only are they not thrilled at the idea of a week on a glorious catamaran, they’re now telling me I’m neither to go sailing nor diving ever again. “What happened? I thought you loved Shark Week?” I ask, exasperated.

What do I do now? How do I get my kids to fall in love with the sea if they won’t even go near her? How do I execute my plan to make all family trips sailing trips without them onboard? Do I push them, do I leave them alone?

I’m not sure which will work to get them eager to spend the new year at sea. I have four months to figure this out. There’s no wind in my sail, I’m adrift in a sea of confusion and disappointment.

Maybe the answer lies in time. As in all things, time has a way of sorting things out, one way or the other. Maybe my love of the sea and boating is enough and there is no need to struggle or push, to force anyone else to love as I do. Maybe if I could surrender on land, the way I do onboard, I would find a semblance of the peace and joy that always awaits me at sea.

Elizabeth has a love of boats that borders on obsession. Growing up in Jamaica and now resident in The Bahamas, Elle is an avid hatha yoga practitioner, photographer, sailor, diver, poet and lover of the sea. Her photography, poetry and contact information is available at lightinblu.com.

 

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