Why as first time parents do some of us over think the changes in our little one’s lives? Fear of the unknown is one obvious answer. While I spent many a waking hour thinking through how to make the changes Orbit’s life as seamless as possible, he had worked it out himself or was just happy to go along with the change.
Now Orbit is walking and happiest when he is exploring the world, his attention span has widened beyond the relative safety of the cockpit (Medina has a fully enclosed centre cockpit). This isn’t a big issue when we are in the marina because we can easily hop off the boat and go for a walk or when we are at anchor we can jump in the tinny and do some beach combing. But what about when we are sailing?
So, although not the average milestone in a baby’s life, we were faced with the dilemma of when to let Orbit out of the cockpit when sailing (harnessed on and supervised of course).
Prior to going into the details, I would like to acknowledge that each family makes its own decisions based on their situation and there is no right or wrong answer.
There are two schools of thought on managing development changes in babies lives, parent led change or baby/child led change. For us, the answer of when do you let your baby out of the cockpit started as a parent led change, getting him used to being outside the cockpit and the restrictions on him when out there, e.g. sitting on the back deck in the baby carrier then in the bumbo seat then as he got older playing in the safety harness. The parent led change quickly transformed into a baby led change. When Orbit wants to get out of the cockpit there is much gesticulating and he pulls out his harness (it lives in a rope bag in the cockpit for easy access) as a way of communicating to us what he wants to do (“the signal”).
Prior to letting Orbit out of the cockpit when sailing, we waited until he was used to wearing his harness, was used to moving around the boat when we were under sail and we had the most appropriate sailing conditions. We then waited for him to give us “the signal”.
On the weekend everything came together, and we popped Orbit up on the high side of the boat, harnessed on and me within close range (trying not to let my fear get the better of me). Orbit blissfully unaware of my fear, absolutely loved being on the high side, the freedom of being able to walk up and down the boat and to see things from different angles. He was sure footed and absorbed the rolling deck with ease. His confidence and ability to move around the boat (high side only) surprised me but not the extremely proud Skipper.
My biggest learning from the weekend was how much my baby is growing up and how I need to give him the freedom to keep learning and while he does, we will always be there to guide and catch him.
[Definition of high side – when a boat is under sail it leans over from the force of the wind (known as heeling) making the boat have a high side and a low side. The high side is the side of the boat which is furtherest away from the water and the low side is closest to the water.]