As I wrote the title for this post I realize we aren't really cruising with kids. We are cruising with babies. Which is really, really different for obvious reasons (not to mention the fact that we have two of them!). For example, people who cruise with kids (and for the purposes of this blog I am calling a "kid" a child over three) rarely have to clean up that child's poop in their cockpit. Poop, mind you, that's been smeared - Picasso style - by the pudgy hands of the children that made them.
And so I bring you the moments when cruising with kids, er, I mean babies, isn't so awesome.
The day started normal enough. The girls stirred from their nightly slumbers sometime between 6:15 and 6:45 am, at which point Scott and I did our best to pretend not to hear them in order to snag a couple more zzzzz's. This is much easier said than done on a 44 foot boat with doors as thick as cardboard.
"Maaaaaaaaamaaa!!" Isla whined in a semi-sleepy, but very much awake voice, "I'mmmmm aaaaaaawaaAAAAAaaaake. The suuuuuun is uuuuuuuuuup" she moaned as she stretched like a cat in her bunk. "I 'm doooone sleeeeeeepin'" she punctuated, sitting up.
Because I am a) still nursing multiple times a day (exhausting in an of itself)), b) wake up at least once a night to feed the twins, and c) (according to Scott) am not a "morning" person, Scott takes breakfast duty and tries to keep the littles quiet enough until 7:30 or (if I am *really* lucky) 8 so I can "sleep in". This gesture is sweet and much appreciated, but "sleeping in" with three children under three is pretty much impossible unless you have a soundproof bunker that can be locked from the inside and/or have taken a narcotic sleeping aid. Shrieking, squawking, laughing, banging and screaming ensue in various pitches and tones on our boat and when you are not more than fifteen feet from the source of those noises, you hear them loud and clear. So usually I just lay in bed feigning sleep until I smell the heavenly aroma of caffeine wafting through our boat, at which point I consider it "safe" to go in.
After the breakfast rigamarole we dropped our mooring ball and started the upwind sail just as I was getting the twins down for their 9am nap. Sailing with three little children, mind you, is not exactly fun (kudos to those families who make long passages with more than one baby, that is so not our bag - with one baby, it was fine - more than one? No thank you). In fact, the other day during a particularly rough moment when we all took a wave of saltwater to our faces while seated on the high side I believe I said, "I love living on a boat, but I hate sailing". And, at that moment, I did. "There it is!" Scott said with a menacing, almost maniacal chuckle. Because of this, we try to sail as much as possible while the twins are sleeping in their bunk because it is infinitely easier (and more pleasant). This is, at the very most, a two hour window. Most sails these days are three or four hours, leaving at least one or two hours where I am playing "whack-a-mole" and doing nothing more than desperately plying children with snacks (vanilla wafers are cheap and seem to do the trick) and making goofy faces while singing made-up songs in attempts stave off a mutiny in the form of multiple tantrums in surround sound (aka the tenth circle of hell).
We were sailing from Cooper's Island to Trellis Bay. Scott had originally wanted to sail all the way to Virgin Gorda, but after telling me it would take about five hours I demanded that we break it up and stop half way. After exiting the harbor into the strong headwinds and rough seas, he agreed. Yes, Trellis would do. There's a fantastic little art studio there and a small grocery store where I could replenish our meager provisions (for a fortune - grocery prices here are highway robbery, but that's another post all together). By all means this sail is easy. A strong, steroid ridden arm could probably throw a baseball between the two islands but being that we had unusually powerful winds "on the nose" meant that we had to make many tacks in order to get from A to B, essentially quadrupling the distance we needed to travel to our destination.
"How much longer?" I kept asking Scott, slightly agitated knowing that the babies would be up soon.
"I don't know, look at the chart" he replied, dryly.
We weren't making very good time and there were lots of squalls on the horizon. Squalls make me nervous these days what with all the babies on board and what not.
We pulled into Trellis Bay in perfect time for lunch, which - really - is the ideal time to arrive. Lunch can be served with ease, and in an hour it's nap time again. Things were going according to plan.
I fed the babies their pasta with marinara sauce and immediately realized why they eat Kraft macaroni and cheese 90% of the time. Sauce. Was. Everywhere. In their hair, dangling off their eyelashes, on their chests and, I later discovered, even in the confines of their diapers.
"Mama, the babies are really, really messy" Isla noted as she gobbled up a spoonful of pasta. She is nothing if not astute.
I decided that instead of trying to towel them off with wet wipes, I'd just hose them off and give them a shower on the back of the boat. I stripped each baby down to their birthday suits (something they thoroughly enjoy) and went down below to get fresh clothes and diapers for them.
When I came up both babies had laid fairly large, impressively stinky poop eggs in the cockpit and both were trying their hands at finger painting with them.
"Scott!" I yelled desperately "I need you!"
He swept into action removing the babies from the crime scene while I scooped up the poops with paper towels and flung them overboard. I grabbed more paper towels and spray cleaner with bleach, frantically disinfecting the entire area with visions of eColi and pinkeye dancing through my head. It was about that time that Isla woke up prematurely from her nap declaring she had wet the bed. It was also about this time that the decent squall I'd seen on the horizon blew threw with vigor, thoroughly drenching the boat and our cockpit and, in general, wreaking havoc for a solid eight minutes.
What's that they say? When it rains, it pours. Yes. Yes it does.
Scott went down below to change Isla and settle her back down, and I was left with the poopy (and still very sauce-y) babies.
I grabbed Haven and brought her to the aft deck to hose her off and clean her hands. Once I was convinced she was poop and sauce free, I replaced her in the cockpit and grabbed Mira to repeat the process.
I was just toweling off little Mira when I heard the dreaded "thud-silence-wail" sequence. All parents know that the pregnant pause before a scream usually indicates a pretty serious ouch, and I looked over and saw Haven on her back after having slipped on our wet cockpit while trying to summit the combings. Her eyes were wide and mouth agape for another split second before she started howling like a banshee (this child does *not* hold back) with a healthy amount of blood coming from her mouth.
"Haven's bleeding" I casually yelled down to Scott, giving him a little update on our goings ons. He was struggling with a full-blown tantruming Isla who felt that fifteen minutes was a perfectly acceptable nap and he is far more patient with that stuff than I. Fighting with a (seemingly) possessed three year old is on my list of the top five things that will drive me insane, so I was happier to be dealing with the upper deck issues. I will take blood over tantrums any day.
I put Mira down in the relative safety of the cockpit and scooped up Haven to assess her injuries. Luckily, I am not squeamish and blood doesn't bother me. I was pretty sure she was more scared than hurt, and I was right. Her bottom teeth had cut a bit of her top gum and although there was a lot of blood, it was nothing serious. I held her tight to calm her, let her suck on a wet, cold paper towel and once she was calm and happy again I finished the task at hand.
By the time everything was sorted out, it was time for the blessed second nap. I nursed the babies, tucked them into their bunks and retreated back to the cockpit where I wish I could say I kicked back with a nice, cold and highly potent adult beverage but we were plum out of alcohol, adding insult to injury. So I just closed my eyes and relished in the quiet.
Cruising with babies*. Where a day can go from fine to crappy (pun intended) in the blink of any eye.
But at least we always have a killer view. That's definitely good for something.
*I realize that you could replace "cruising" with "living"...on land or sea, three under three and parenting in general is always an adventure!