Perhaps today’s children are too cocooned. There certainly seems to be much mentioned on folks’ worries regarding children’s obesity, and their obsessions with cell phones, text-messaging, video games and MySpace. Maybe it was easier raising children back in the sixties, particularly in NZ where TVs were not the norm and, if so, were black and white with only one channel.
Late fifties: my dad has finished building a 32-foot Kathryn Anne Woolacott designed yacht, Aries. It has taken him nearly five years, in a shed up the side of the house.
1960: mum and dad marry.
1961: I come along.
1962: my sister Clio arrives.
1963: dad closes down his cabinet-making business at the back of the house, mum’s parents move down from Auckland and live in the house, and for the next few years we sail the east coast of the North Island.
1965: my brother Rob is born. The family joke is that we just row mum ashore in time. Dad attaches a wringer to Aries’ transom so we can wash and wring nappies/diapers, to dry on the boat’s rigging.
1966: I’m about to turn five and thus due to start school. With some sadness the family sails home. I start primary school, dad reopens his business, mum’s parents move into a flat next door, mum raises a family before she goes back to part-time and then full-time secondary school teaching.
I’m a great believer that kids are extremely resilient, that you can take them anywhere from a very early age and pretty much throw them in any deep end. It takes parents who know what they’re doing, that’s certain, but as parents, we’ve also got to take the responsibility of introducing our kids to all the wonders and adventures outside the home and mall. And hopefully that sense of adventure will grow as they do.
I’ll never forget mum’s reaction in 1989 when I told her that I’d entered a two-month yacht race from Auckland to Fukuoka: “Why can’t my kids be boring like everyone else’s!”
If you’re interested in another look at kids at sea, my brother Rob wrote an article on the very subject a few years back.