What kayaking has taught me about being my daughter’s mother

25 Jul

My daughter C and I are still on vacation mode, so we took some time to visit the eastern side of the island this past weekend.  I’ve always wanted to do something really different with her, something that she has never shared with anybody ever, so I took her to a twilight kayaking tour of the bio-luminescent bay in Fajardo.

Oh, what an experience!  It took everything I had in me to not throw myself overboard (does a kayak have a board you can go over?).  I even thought of throwing her over, but I have  invested so much in her it seemed a waste.

The kayaking tour begins with a polite young man explaining the basics of kayaking and the instructions for the whole trip.  To all of this, C paid no attention at all.  She was anxious because she was kind of dreading the experience.  You see, C and I are very much alike in that we are very stubborn women.  She knew I would try to give her instructions, and she knew that there would be friction between us.

Sure enough, I found myself screaming instructions at her in the middle of the beach and paddling against her to get where we needed to go.  We had to go out to the beach and then follow the group to a channel in a mangrove that would take us to the Laguna Grande bay.  We were the last of the group to go into the channel.  By this time, I was already tired and feeling cramps in my hands and arms from all the paddling, but C would not listen or even look at me for instructions.  I was unnerved.

All of a sudden something happened.  There, in the red mangrove’s channel, bumping into tree limbs and being eaten alive by mosquitoes, C realized how to “drive” the kayak and I learned to shut my mouth and trust her.  I noticed how my 11 year old baby took control of the situation, calmed herself down and made me quiet myself.  She knew what to do, and I had been the freak she expected me to be.

I was so tired that I let myself go and followed her lead.  I even remembered that the purpose of the trip was for us to enjoy a new experience together.  As all of this was going through my mind, the evening light dissipated in front of our eyes and the most beautiful view opened up in front of us.  She had gotten us through the channel and into the most beautiful and quiet bay surrounded by our island’s magnificence on all sides.

The sky was so clear, you could sit and count the stars!  The view all around us made me so proud to call this island my home.  Then, to top it all off, we got to see the bio-luminescent microorganisms.  It sounds very scientific, but in fact it is magical.  We put our hands in the water and the movement “activated” the microorganisms which caused them to glow.  We “oohed” and “ahhed” so much, but we didn’t get tired of it.  It is a shame that it didn’t come out well in pictures.  It is something you’d have to see, like a bucket list item.

I am so glad I had this whole experience with C, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I realized I can be a tad overbearing.  I realized that I don’t always apply what I teach at my job:  let the kids find their own way.  They will get there even if it’s not through the path that you are drawing for them.  Let yourself be amazed by your child.

I am also glad that the polite tour guide noticed how exhausted I was and decided to tie our kayak to his and tow us out of the bay, all through the channel, and back to the shore.  After all the learning I did, I could not paddle a kayak to save my life!

After an eventful kayaking adventure, we got to relax at the pool the next day.

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