As a father of three boys (soon to be four), I’m familiar with a life of chaos. The weeks and months pass by in what feels like the blink of an eye as we repeat our daily routine. Get up, go to school, play, eat dinner, cleanup, go to bed. The cycle repeats and before I turn around it’s been another month, a half-year, and a year has gone by. With what seems like so little time I find my comfort in tradition. Tradition has a way of anchoring children, a way of giving them an identity.
For me, my childhood was spent in and around boats on local lakes and rivers. I can remember spending the entire day of nearly every weekend out on the Tunica Cutoff with tons of friends and family. We had a cobbled together dock anchored out in the lake. On one half was a screened in porch with a roof, on the other half was an open deck with a swimming pool ladder permanently bolted on. Everybody would setup shop there and ski, swim, eat, and play all sorts of games until the sun reached the tops of the trees. I can remember nearly getting carried off by mosquitos as the family helped dad prepare the boat for the drive home. Mosquitos in the river delta are huge! We’d often stop at the Delta Queen in Tunica to get ice cream chocolate “dip cones” if I was able to stay awake. More typically, I fell asleep before we made it to the highway.
I remember taking boat trips to different places from a very young age. Our family, along with 3-4 other families (some cousins) would load up and spend the days on the boat and nights in a state park or other hotel nearby. We visited Cincinnati, Chicago, Charleston, Savannah, the Gulf Coast, Key West and more. We went to some awesome places and had some amazing experiences, many of which I don’t remember. What I do remember is the undivided attention my parents gave me and my siblings. It was clear there was nothing more important in the world than their investing their time by spending it with us.
Now that I’m a father I have the opportunity to do that same. I have the opportunity to invest in my boys by spending time with them. Uninterrupted, intentional time. I have the opportunity to build into their lives tradition, identity, and stability. I have the opportunity to teach them responsibility while having fun, rest while working hard, and the importance of family. I love boating because it provides all of those opportunities while taking us away from the distractions of daily living. I love boating because I was brought up boating and find great joy in continuing the tradition.