Turns out ‘I can’t promise you anything’ Lulu has a cunning trick up her sleeve. Her trick? She talks to me.
Her main line is this: ‘I can’t promise you I won’t do stuff with Jamie, but I promise I’ll tell you about it.’
Herein lies the dilemma of the friendly parent. Can you be both friend and parent to your kid at the same time? I can answer this question very easily with a resounding, ‘No, you can’t.’ I’ve never tried to tick both these boxes simultaneously anyway. For proof, I can allude to the number of times a day I provide my children with bollockings – employing exciting titles such as:
1. Put your clothes away before they are actual mountains
2. You need to remember why we own a dishwasher
3. Stop arguing with your sister unless you both want to sleep in the garden
4. What do you mean you don’t have homework
This approach is something I’ve been honing for a number of years now. It hasn’t been the easy line to take. My feeling behind this is that children need shaping, given boundaries and help to understand their roles. I don’t think they’ll thank me either if they’re unable to negotiate adulthood. But here’s the thing; for some reason despite all this, my children still peg me for their friend.
It makes me scratch my head. Even more so when Lulu tells me her ‘deal’ – that she can’t promise she won’t do stuff with her boyfriend, but she’ll be honest with me when she does. Where did she learn this line from? Hold on. Now that I think about it, I think I do know what taught her to speak this way. And if this is true, which I think it is, I only have myself to blame.
It’s Quest. That big floating girl. Us being together on her – for so much, together, did something weird to my children. It created a platform of openness which I never saw coming. I find it strange too because it’s not like our time on Quest has been all sunshine and rainbows. Neighbouring boats can testify to that. We’ve had difficulty negotiating the small space together – I imagine it doesn’t help too when you have large personalities onboard. From school, to the lack of space, to boredom, to loneliness – thrown in with the loss of a beloved parent; Jack’s dad, and, at times, financial insecurity – living on a boat tested each of us to the extreme. It’s a painful reality, but boating should come with a warning sticker ‘Living the dream might kill you’. Families get all excited about sailing together (well, at least the parents do), only to find it breaks their family apart when they do it. We’ve seen the wreckage for ourselves with different cruising boats. Not all families survive it. I’m surprised to say that ours has probably come through. We’ve been left with a piece of unexpected salvage. Honesty.