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Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I haven’t blogged in forever. No, I’m not dead. Just living the good life.
Can life be so brilliantly beautiful that we don’t have time to write about it? Probably not. I’m just lazy.

At any rate, we spent our summer in France. A good deal of it at the Olgy Sailing Club. Last year, I stepped out on a limb and enrolled the boys in a French sailing camp. The instructor, Christelle, (who speaks very rudimentary English) told me they would be just fine. I understood her to say that they would be in a boat with an experienced sailor. So you can understand my misgivings when she put my 7 and 9-year-old sons in a boat with a shrimpy little boy who spoke no English and sent them down the Moselle River just as a giant barge made its way toward them.

“Aren’t the kids going to have an adult on board?” I protested. “Non ma’am,” Christelle said. “They don’t learn so good with adults.” The day passed with no trauma, so we returned the next morning. This time, she put David & Christopher in a boat by themselves. My stomach churned nervously. When they reached the middle of the river, their sailboat began to turn in circles uncontrollably. Sure they would soon keel over, I ran down the pier and motioned to the instructor, pointing madly at my boys—at this point any French I know failed me.

Christelle stepped calmly into a speedboat and set off in their direction yelling commands in French. When my boys returned to the pier, I learned they had been arguing and couldn’t agree on which direction to go. “Good job, Circle Boy,” the older chided his scowling brother. Concluding from their odd behavior that they were afraid of the water, Christelle ordered the boys back into the speedboat. This time, her assistant plucked each boy up by his life vest and tossed him into the river. This was a home-run. My sons stopped arguing immediately and begged to go sailing everyday.

On day three, I figured my nerves would calm a bit. But this time, Christelle split the “arguing” boys up and sent them down the river solo. No adult, no friend, not even an angry sibling on board. Watching from the pier where I could do absolutely nothing to help them was hard, but worth it. That day, I saw my boys sail for the first time. They made their way around every buoy and back to the dock without incident.

I’m routinely humbled by my kids, but when we’re abroad it’s routine. How many years have I spent going around in circles because I’m engaged in an argument about which direction to take my life? And I’m arguing with myself! If only I could laugh at being tossed overboard and learn by intuition like they do. Maybe then I would learn to sail . . .

 My boys are in the boat to the far right.


Linda said...

For some reason, I was visualizing a sailboat much more like Desmond's in my head. Thank goodness they were in a much smaller craft. :)

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