Longtime readers will know that we are a sailing family. We have a 25′ Catalina mariana-ed in Kenosha, the kids have all participated in sailing camp in the summers and my youngest is headed there next week, and my middle son will be doing some small-boat sailing instruction at Boy Scout camp where he’s a counselor this summer.
Longtime readers will also know that I grew up sailing. Other families went “up north” on summer weekends; we went to the boat, a 27′ sailboat that Dad and his friends built as a project back when my older sister was a baby (it was a group of 10 or so and they build one boat for each), and which Dad was constantly improving, or fixing anyway, replacing the tiller with a steering wheel, upgrading the electronics, and the like. For much of my childhood, my parents were members of a small boat club with a clubhouse where everyone gathered for dinner on weekend evenings, and where my siblings and I played Spoons and I Doubt It or watched TV on the old black and white TV with whatever kids happened to be around. It was anchored in Anchor Bay at Lake St. Clair, the unofficial “sixth Great Lake” just north of the Detroit River, and for several years Dad (and whichever kids wanted to come along, and, some years, my uncle) sailed the boat to Put-in-Bay, where Mom and the rest of us would meet up for a summer vacation.
That boat is now long gone, sold when Dad could no longer physically manage the work of maintaining it or even just sailing it. But I have pleasant memories of lazy summer afternoons, reading a book or dozing off or dangling our feet in the water and hoping to get splashed when the boat was heeling just right and a power boat left a strong wake.
Sailing as an adult has been, well, less relaxing, since many of the early years we had a division of labor in which I kept the kids from fussing or falling overboard while my husband did the actual sailing. The older the kids got, the more relaxed the sailing got, as far as the childcare work goes, and now the kids are much more able to actively participate in the sailing, casting off, and so on, though my husband still puts up and takes down the sails. But what really stinks is that the older I get, the more susceptible I get to motion sickness, and, what’s worse, the “non-drowsy” version of motion sickness pills have, for the last couple years, been putting me to sleep. (I’ve been wanting to try either taking one the night before, and seeing if the sleep-inducing effects wear off before the motion sickness protection does, or seeing if I can try a combo of anti-motion sickness pills plus a big dose of caffeine.) So I try the various alternative remedies — ginger capsules, or an essential oil type thing, or the Sea Bands — which sometimes seem to work (or maybe it’s just that the water wasn’t as rough on any given day) and sometimes don’t, and I curse the fact that I used to be pretty much immune to motion sickness but now am very vulnerable (and yes, as I type, I’ve been googling this question without any satisfactory answer). So there are some days where we have a very nice outing, with just the right amount of wind, and others where the boat is rocking too much for my poor stomach to handle.
But then we went to the marina’s pool, and my husband and son cooled off while I relaxed poolside, and the crazy thing is that my memories of nice relaxing afternoons sailing are so ingrained in me that rather than feeling disappointed at the failed sailing outing, I was so able to visualize all the relaxing sailing outings that having had a failed outing just now didn’t bother me. So it’s funny, I guess, what we remember fondly and what we don’t, and where the pleasantness of an outing stays foremost in our minds vs. where we only remember the misery of it.
I’ll conclude with a pet peeve of mine: it drives me batty when people talk about going on vacations or doing other activities with their children as a form of “making memories.” Grrr. No. You should go camping, or play a board game, or ride bikes together, or do whatever the heck it is that you like to do with your families because you enjoy it, or, failing that, because it makes your kids happy. Whether they’ll remember it years from now really shouldn’t be a determinant of what choices you make. And, yes, I know it’s just an expression, and I presume it doesn’t do any harm — unless, that is, families abandon doing enjoyable things with their too-young-to-remember-anything children because there won’t be any “memories” or unless families always seek out that which is new and different — and expensive — because going on the same bike ride or hike or playing the same game you’ve always played isn’t “making a memory.” But it still bugs me.
Image: yeah, I usually don’t have family pictures, but this one is a number of years old by now and it’s a sideways view, anyway.