Boat Races


It was the last day of Fall Break.


What to do? What to do? We'd already been to the dollar movie, we'd been to a safari animal show, we'd seen friends...the pressure was on to find one last memorable activity to bring our break to a fabulous end.

I know! We'll head to the Greenway and take the stupid dog and enjoy the sunshiny day. Oh a whim, I called my mom to see if she'd like to join in the fun. I was surprised to hear my dad answer the phone and remembered that he'd taken the whole week off to work around the house and finish some projects.

Nana AND Papa wanted to come with us!

If you have ever met my father, you know that sometimes he gets these ideas of ways to have fun with his kids. We love our Dad and Papa.
This photo was taken around 1984 of he and my little sister. Pantyhose on the head is always good for a laugh.

Now that a few years have gone by, he now gets especially fun ideas for his grandchildren. They always sound SO fun. Once he brought home a black widow spider and kept it in a mason jar (in the house!) just so the grandkids could look at it. Other past ideas include (but are not limited to):
1. building an arched bridge to cross the small creek in his backyard. Sounds so nice, doesn't it? I wish I had a picture of that bridge. He built that arch on such a steep angle that you almost literally had to get on your hands and knees to climb to the top and then scoot carefully, inch by inch, down the other side. His grown daughters had visions of our small children toppling off the bridge and breaking limbs.

It was a life-threatening hazard. It had to go. He built a nice, sensible flat bridge after that.

2. helping each grandchild build a homemade sling shot during cousin camp. Hmm. Enabling an 11 and an 8-yr-old boy to shoot rocks long distances?
That one had all us mothers in the family raising an eyebrow, but I am happy to report no serious injuries were sustained.

3. the latest idea? A paint party for my grandmother's shed out in the country. Children varying in age from 11 to 6 will be painting for all they're worth. Poor Mamaw's shed.

In keeping with his image, Dad came up with an idea to make the Greenway visit more fun. Build boats and race them down the creek!

The girls were thrilled. Each one clutched their precious boat (which was two pieces of 2x4s nailed together) and we made our way to the creek. They set them gently in the water, and the fun began.
Everything was going just great until one small problem...one of the three boats got stuck on the opposite bank from where we were.

No problem, thought Papa...I'll just throw rocks at it to knock it loose.
This went on for several minutes, but to no avail. That boat was not budging. My fearless daughter, unconcerned with the hazards, volunteered to wade across the creek and manually free the poor boat. We watched her make her way through the water (and I tried to ignore stray thoughts of snakes and such lurking in the creek water) and painstakingly set that boat back into the current.

We were off to the races again. Everybody was happy. It was a nice little activity. Papa came through for us.

And in the blink of an eye, a nice little activity turned into a source of great emotional distress.

Here's the thing about boat races in creeks: the boats tend to make their way down the creek and are not particularly concerned with how they will make their way BACK to their owners.

As I watched those three little boats floating merrily down the stream, I realized where we had made our critical error. We had failed to inform the children PRIOR to the race that the boats would not be returning. They would be setting sail in open waters forevermore.

Oops.

I began to hear little murmurings. The murmurings soon escalated to loud yelling. The loud yelling, sadly, escalated to pleas for the boats to STOP! COME BACK!

And then reality began to set in with the little boat racers. And as we all know, reality is often an unhappy thing.

What can I say? Three adults and none of us thought to warn the kids of their boats' imminent departures.

You'd think by now I'd know better. The girls looked at me (again) as if I were the most vile creature on earth. Girls, I wanted to say, it was pieces of scrap wood nailed together. This is not a universal catastrophe. But of course I must show (somewhat) sincere concern for their feelings...our trip ended with a visit to Dairy Queen.
"Mom, you really think you can buy me off with an 88 cent dip cone? We're talking serious disappointment here."

"Yeah, okay, you can."

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