The adventure of the improbable boat

the adventure of the improbable boat“Dad!” Our eldest son called out one morning from the direction of the garage. “Dad!” He called again.

“What,” his father yelled back from the den where we both sat still in our pajamas, nursing far too little coffee to match Kiddo’s level of activity.

“If it wasn’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsover.”  – David Letterman

“We need your help,” Kiddo called out. “For the boat project! Don’t you remember?”

I glanced at my husband. “Boat project?” It was one of those times I had to debate with myself whether or not I really want to know.

Kiddo and one of his best friend’s recently came across a waterfall only a few short yards from our backyard. I’ve lived in this house for years, but only learned of its existence when Kiddo returned one afternoon drenched from knee to toe. I can only assume that prior to their discovery it only existed in one of those secret magical places that only children are equipped to find.

Like any proud discoverers, both boys had immediately claimed the waterfall and the surrounding creek bed as their own. Now, it would seem, they had decided that it was time to take their exploration to the next level by building a boat.

My husband helped the boys pull down a few supplies, but left them to their work as Kiddo does love to work on his inventions. Occasionally, one would pop in to raid the pantry for a snack. As I cleaned up the kitchen, I heard the distinctive sound of a power screwdriver. Unable to contain my misgivings curiosity any longer, I gave in and peeked at the work in progress. Their eyes lit up at my appearance. “Can you help?” the boys asked holding out a piece of particle board and a pair of mismatched screws from the various piles now littered across the garage floor.

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” – Phyllis Diller

I eyeballed their creation. To my eye, its resemblance to a boat ended at – it’s made of wood. “Um, I am not sure how well that will float.” I mean it wasn’t impossible to think it might keep water out by the time they were done, but it appeared highly improbable.

“That’s why we need your help attaching the sides,” Kiddo’s friend replied showing me just how the pieces of mismatched wood were supposed to fit together.

Oh, is that all you need.

I made my exit shortly afterward, no more confident in their boat’s design than I was minutes earlier. I saw a flash of color run past a window. Perhaps, I thought the boys had given up or grown bored and gone to play another game. I saw another flash of color. Both kids reappeared in the garage, their arms now full of bright yellow pull ties and something I could only guess was the rubber shell of a bicycle tire ‘borrowed’ from the other house. Or, perhaps not.

the improbable boat
something tells me Kiddo isn’t going to be invited to work the shipyard anytime soon

By the end of the morning, their creation was no more boat-shaped than it was when they started (it looked more like a ramp), but it was theirs. Undeterred and full of smiles, the pair picked it up and took off toward the woods and the newest adventure, but within minutes they were once again in the garage.

“Didn’t work out like you thought?” I said, my heart full of sympathy. “That’s okay, at least you gave it a try.”

“Yeah,” Kiddo said with a grin. “We just need to build a dock.”

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” – Mark Twain

I found the boys in the woods later that day with another board, their ‘dock,’ laying on one side of the creek bed and their ‘boat’ drifting downstream, just out of arm’s reach. Obviously, their great plan to set sail across the seven seas to continents unknown hadn’t exactly worked out as they’d anticipated, but just as clearly it hadn’t stopped them from having an adventure all the same. And rather than focusing on the loss of one morning’s effort, they were already planning their next foray.

I am trying to be more like my children. It is the reason I tell these stories. It is the reason I keep coming back week after week even when I sometimes feel like quitting. I remind myself, I wouldn’t have known the creek existed had the children not risked exploring. I wouldn’t have thought there was a need for a boat (or a dock), as the water was only knee-deep on a child. But these children of mine, they never seem bothered by the reasons I might come up off the top of my head as to why not to do something or why something won’t work. They simply try and enjoy the experience.

Not everything is going to go to plan. Not every idea will float. I have to remind myself that is okay. Because while I may lose a few screws along the way, in the end, I know, regardless of the results, the mere attempt can often prove to be an adventure worth having.

*Quotes courtesy of Photography is my own.

25 thoughts on “The adventure of the improbable boat

  1. I love this. I did many similar things as a kid and no matter how many times we failed, we always found something new and fun to pursue. You’re right; we all need to remember that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your stories about your kids, Allie. I have to admit I can relate to their adventures as I’m still a “jump in and try it person” who finds many opportunities to fail. Ha ha. But I have fun and learn too. It’s wonderful that you take so much joy in them and the wonders of childhood. I say, hang on to the adventure as long as we can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read this fascinating piece about a family whose father asked them what they failed at that day at dinner rather than what they accomplished as a way of ensuring they didn’t develop a negative connotation of failure. We tried to institute the same at our table, but I have to admit we failed 🙂 to keep it up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha ha. How about asking “What’s something you tried today?” That celebrates the creativity and effort over the outcome. I wish I had paid more attention to this when I was younger. So fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So great. The fun, excitement, and innocence of youth. At least their various attempts kept them happy and occupied for so long. And wow, finding a little waterfall and a creek within walking distance–magic! I’m excited for them! I’d love that, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you should mention the ole refrigerator box as a large box that once shipped Her Royal Highness’s food to my door is now standing in for a fort in the center of my den.


  4. I love this post. And, also, your conclusion. It’s beautiful and so true. (As is this quote: ““Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” – Phyllis Diller”) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There’s a lot to be said for childlike innocence and wonder. Not to mention nearby woods built for exploring. This takes me back to my own youth (though, to the best of my recollection, I never did try to build a boat).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did a fair bit of exploring in nearby woods growing up, so am thrilled the kids are also having their own adventures. However, I can’t say I ever tried building a boat either.


  6. I hope I get to meet them before they get too big. I love their adventures and their imagination and that they aren’t burnt by the world. Everything is a success, everything is an adventure, I wish I was still like that. We can learn a lot from kids.

    Liked by 1 person

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