Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Back to the Boat, Back on Island Time: On Adaptation and Change

It never ceases to amaze me just how adaptable children are. After two months back in the US at my mom's house, I was certain we'd have a little "adjustment" period back at the boat. The girls, after all, are getting bigger, older, and can most certainly grasp the difference between a boat and a house, not to mention the concept of personal space. They loved being back at Grandma's. They have friends back there, we fell into a nice little routine, and - most concerning for me - they became pretty accustomed to life in a three bedroom ranch. They played tag every morning, hid under beds and behind drapery...they enjoyed their own rooms and had plenty of drawers each for their clothes (on the boat they have the equivalent of one small drawer each and only the twins have their own dedicated 'room'). They played in the back yard on the tire swing, pushed baby doll strollers down hallways, and rode bikes and trikes a plenty...Bringing them back to the boat meant a lot of this stuff was going to come to an abrupt halt.

So you can imagine my surprise when, after over a week of being back, I have yet to hear of a single complaint about anything we left back home (minus grandma, of course). I haven't heard any lamentations over the lack of a backyard or whining that they miss the library, nor have the girls put in requests for anything that I thought they might miss - from food to toys - from their time up north. They haven't even asked for television (which was something we admittedly watched significantly more of back in the house). I was, at the very least, prepared for a few sleepless nights as they re-acclimated with their old beds, but, no. In fact, they fell back into napping and night sleeping better than they did these last two months on land! I have to say I was shocked. Each time we have a transition like this I brace myself for a fallout, for tantrums and wonky adjustment periods - and yet - they never happen.  It's incredible and once again our girls show me that mama needs to take a chill pill. "I have no idea why this still surprises me" I told my mom on the phone the other day. "They just fall back into step." To which she replied with her motherly wisdom, "Kids are very adaptable."

And they are. And it's pretty amazing.


The days leading up to our departure were super busy on both ends; I was busy packing up and prepping for the flights (remember, I prepare for these things like a ninja!), Scott was up to his eyeballs in work while simultaneously launching and readying Asante for our return (she was on the hard the last three months). I'm glossing over a ton of details but suffice it to say we were frenetic on both ends. The girls and I enjoyed an uneventful day of travel and landed on Tortola just as the sun was beginning to set and the tree frogs start singing their nightly tunes. Our favorite taxi driver, Larry, picked us up with a big smile and huge hugs, and soon we were en-route back to the boat.

The girls were *so* excited to be back. The boat was a flurry of energy; snuggles with daddy, finding "new" toys, running amok (as children who have been cooped up in planes for a whole day are wont to do) and preparing dinner. Meanwhile, I unpacked all our bags.

The next morning we went out to breakfast with daddy and - oh my gosh! - the girls were greeted with so many hugs and fist bumps and smiles from every direction. "Who are you people and where were you?" one fellow breakfast patron asked with a laugh, "I've never seen so many people so excited to see four girls!" It gave us the warm fuzzies to know we were missed since, truth be told, sometimes I think the presence of three very active, loud and exuberant toddlers might cramp our marina's style. It's hard to keep a low profile around here with our crew. Not everyone loves little children and I can respect that - but according to the various workers, wait staff and crew members around us who repeatedly told the girls, "Nanny Cay just wasn't the same without you!" we were missed. And I believe wholeheartedly that Nanny Cay wasn't the same, if for no other reason than it was a lot more quiet!


Being back has been amazing and totally rejuvenating. And, okay, it's not all been smooth sailing; my car got a flat on the first day I drove it and I also discovered I can no longer get out of the driver's side door without rolling down the window and opening it from the outside (#islandcars). Other than those minor nuisances, life is good. Scott is busier than ever at the moment, we are down pretty much all our captains this month so he is pulling double duty and burning the midnight oil every night to stay on top of everything. I am so incredibly proud of him and how he's managing because it is not easy. Meanwhile, the girls and I have fallen right back into swing. We have our little routine of breakfast on the boat followed by some morning outing/activity/playdate, then lunch and nap time around noon, then our afternoon outing/activity/playdate followed by dinner, bath and bedtime between 7 and 7:30pm. Of course there are variations and special occasions, but that's the gist of it. Lots of fresh air, playtime with other children, and glorious sunshine. The pool and beach are regulars in our days and then there's the beach bar, which in the afternoon is a hub of activity and where I can let the girls run free with their little friends to climb trees, swing from ropes, build with the beach jenga blocks or hold scooter races. It's simple, no fluff, fun. And mommy can have her afternoon spritzer or two (wink).

Speaking of scooters, our Micro Scooters have now become the preferred method of travel for the girls. These days, instead of me pushing a double stroller to and fro most of the time, you will find our little gang ripping around the marina like little skater girls. It's pretty hilarious to watch because they are so small and so fast, that it's rare for anyone who passes not to smile or giggle because they look so damn cute all in a row squealing and laughing. Yet another reminder of how fast time flies and how with every month a new milestone is reached when kids are little. There is no way I would have trusted them to fly around here a few months ago, but now - it's how they roll and they love the independence. Of course they are wearing their life jackets while doing so - they get ahead of me so quickly now and the threat of falling in is more imminent - the life jackets put my mind and heart at ease. "If they fall in, they'll float" I tell onlookers. Bumps, bruises and scrapes don't phase me. In fact I encourage those things with our girls. But water safety is no joke. Even though the girls know our "rules" and have excellent control over their rides, it's better to be safe than sorry. That PSA aside...we love our "scooter boards" (as Mira likes to call them, oh yeah - the twins are full on talking now!) and if you are looking for a great scooter for your child, you seriously need to check Micro Scooters out.

So that is where we are at. It's been a pretty great re-entry to boat life and we have been welcomed back to our adopted island with open arms. Life is simple and we are happy. The fact that our girls have made this transition easy makes me very proud of them and I sure hope that this flexibility continues into adulthood for them (it's a trait that doesn't come as naturally to their mother *coughcough*). Change is not always easy and rarely is it effortless, but it is good. And adaptability is what can make it great. Being back on island, back to our floating home? It's exactly what we needed.

Now...how they will handle pre-school three half-days out of the week? That adjustment might prove a little more difficult, for all of us!

Tiny space? No big deal to these kids. In fact, I think they prefer close quarters!
Always a great option for a morning activity
Scooter races are the afternoon activity of choice on many days
This is what I call the "Meyers Mimosa" - soda water and orange juice. 
Swinging from trees is always fun!
We spend a lot of time crafting and coloring as well, but these mess free Water Wow's are my fave!
"How old is that little girl?" is a question I get all the time about our fearless little Haven.
This is our backyard. I mean...what a view to take in every day. I love it.
Back to the baby pool bath on the aft deck - and we've now discovered that Joy dish soap makes the BEST bubbles. Score!
Beaching it in our SwimZip Swimwear SPF rash guards. Love our little beach babies.
Good bye sun, thanks for a great day! So happy to be able to catch the sunset every night again.


SailFarLiveFree said...

I'm convinced kids are as adaptable as their parents allow them to be, so kudos to you for fostering an adaptable spirit in your daughters. What's that Bob Bitchn' line? "The difference between ordeal and adventure is attitude." Or maybe it's "The difference between ordeal and adventure is adaptability."

MaryJo Boyle said...

It's good to see your family all back together again.
And, well said, SailFarLiveFree!

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