Robert and I grew up in very different types of families. Having just 1 sister and 2 children, he told me when we met that he always wished he had a big family. Well, I don’t think it gets much bigger than mine! With 6 children born to both grandparents, our “clan” proliferated through South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Maryland, Washington State and even Alaska! One of my favorite things about social media is getting to “know” cousins I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting.
Both within my family and friends families, I see families come in all shapes and sizes. I know single mothers, single fathers, homes with 2 parents including a mom and a dad, 2 moms and 2 dads and divorced families with multiple moms, dads and grandparents as re-marriages happen. I know families who have adopted and families who foster. I also know people who have created their own families after being estranged from their own or having lost everyone in their birth family. I’m very thankful for all the parents, step parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, children, grandchildren and even “bonus children and grandchildren” (kids and grands from my ex and his wife). While we used to be all Norwegian, we’ve become a fabulous blend of heritages, races and religions.
Families can be sources of great joy and great pain. When love is strong, so is pain of hurt, of losing and of worrying. My belief is that my family is the perfect one for me in that it allows me to learn the lessons I came to this life to learn. While not perfect people, they are perfect for me. This belief has me look at challenging relationships in a way that allows me to learn and grow. While not everyone in our family shares the same views on politics, religion, world affairs. lifestyles etc., they’re still “mine” and I love them no matter what.
When I was a young child, I told my mom that I was going to go to college, get married, get a job and have 3 children, 2 boys and a girl! I guess I learned incidentally that that was the expected route my life should take. Get educated. Get a job. Start a family. Buy a house. Build a career. The thing is, I never had any idea that there was a different possibility for my life or for family life. While I don’t regret the family I had, I look around at these “kid boats” and wonder if life would have been different for all of us if I had this possibility in my realm of possibilities.
There are so many kid boats in the Bahamas! Some of those I've talked to started cruising well before COVID-19 hit. Others just decided since their kids would be getting educated online, they might as well cruise! Others have expressed they decided to cruise to keep their families safe and isolated during the pandemic.
As a therapist/educator/consultant/advocate, I’ve worked in public schools in many different roles and believe strongly in public education, yet, when I think about what these kids are learning about our planet, ecology, cultures, weather patterns, sea creatures, physics, electricity…All with hands on, real life experience…I can’t help but envy them. Just recently a group got scuba certified. I see them kite boarding, snorkeling, hiking, paddle boarding, swimming and enjoying nature on a regular basis. They get together with other kid boats to socialize and play games. They all report spending their mornings doing more traditional "school work" either online or with purchased curriculums and instruction provide by their parents. The afternoon is filled with exploration, socialization and hands on learning through boat chores, sailing or exploring their current location.
I get that sailing/cruising isn’t for everyone. I know we tried to give our kids LOTS of varied experiences when they were young. Boating, water skiing, rafting, camping, music lessons, scouts…as well as different sports, in hopes they would find something they were passionate about. All with mixed results. I’m sure there are also varied responses for kids who’ve parents have decided to live life on a boat… But from the outside looking in, it sure looks like there are lots of happy, well adjusted, kids who enjoying living their life in close connection with their family and nature…Kuddos to them!
If you want to read more about kid boats, I found this article interesting!
Please excuse so many stock photos this week. Faces have been hidden or changed to protect the innocent. 😊