Sailing Overnight Through The Ages Of Youth Pt III


The final part in a three-part series. Read about the boys’ reactions and my reflections as they make this milestone trip in parts one and two.

It had been a weird morning.

First, without lunches to make, boys to scurry, messes to clean up, I’d had a lie-in. That’s pretty weird.

Next, I had discovered I had won $100 in a drawing I had entered. Even weirder.

And it just got more so.

I discovered the goldfish I’d been entrusted to care for for less than 24 hours accusing me with one eye from the surface of the murky water he lay in.

He must have been pretty ticked off with me because he insisted on continuing to do so from the rim of the toilet bowl despite my several attempts to give him a flushy send-off. Weird, weird, weird.

And then the saga of the cleaning-lady-who-wouldn’t-be-fired continued when she showed up bright and early completely unaware that I had terminated her employment two weeks earlier and I had to do it all over again!

P-r-e-t-t-y weird, if you ask me.

A few minutes to 10am, I drove off to school. I had reorganized my morning to make sure I was available to pick the boys up from their overnight field trip.

I thought it likely that they would be tired, cold and hungry and I know from experience that this generally manifests as scowls, complaints, and downright obnoxiousness at times.

I didn’t trust anyone with this cargo of goods.

As I waited anxiously for their return, I heard a few stories from the first arrivals.

Cooking prep at 4:30am, two hour nightwatch shifts completed standing in silence, deck washing, salty cornbread, rain.

Pretty tough for fourth graders from the affluent Bay Area more used to to their iPods, their laptops, their pasta with alfredo sauce.

Gradually more cars arrived, some with sleeping children stowed away.

A few were bright and cheerful, a few were monosyllabic. Some. Swayed.

Eventually the ones I’d been waiting for were expelled from their vehicles.

They walked towards me and I braced myself.


No complaining, no grouchiness, no arguing. They looked…healthy.

Their cheeks were pink, their eyes were bright, their faces clear. They were chilled. Tired but chilled.

They sat in the car grateful for the comfort and negotiated peacefully the location and timing of the hot meal I’d promised them.

And so it remained. All day.

These mellow, relaxed, compliant children inhabited my house.

I have to take my bosun’s hat off to those Age of Sail people. They don’t just offer a character-building opportunity for a few hours. Or a chance to live history.

They do personality transplants. Such is the stress of modern living.

Have you anxiously awaited the return of your kids from a trip? Have they come back transformed? Or is the transformation more noticeable in you? Let me know in the comments!

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