Divorced With Children Page 2

At Sea — April 2004
By Capt. Bill Pike

Divorced With Children
Part 2: The truth hit me like a sack of fish heads.

Illustration: Joseph Daniel Fiedler
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Children
• Part 2: Children continued

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• At Sea Index

Given the monetary considerations that had just cropped up as well as the psychological problems that were looming, I should have deferred to my daughter’s wishes right then. But no, not ol’ keep-cruisin’-at-any cost Capt. Bill. Shouting to be heard over the din of the TV, the bleeps of the video game, and the annoying buzz of the earphones, I tried to reason with her, acknowledging the potential for cruelty in young boys but assuring her that “nothing personal was meant.”

“Yeah, right,” she sniffed, as if scenting a bad batch of chicken fingers. Jesse poured a large bag of marbles onto the teak deck. Another form of distraction, apparently.

The real horror show started an hour later. I was on the bridge running the boat in lonely, dispirited silence (except for the distant whirr of rolling marbles and the thrum of electronic media) when a whopping commotion broke out below decks, complete with the vigorous slamming of a door and lots of thunderous pounding. Jerking the throttles back yet again, I returned to the saloon, where my daughter stood with a look on her face strikingly similar to the psychotic visage Betty Davis favored in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Jesse had inadvertently locked himself in his cabin, she yelled. And he was pounding on the door, trying to get out. “The brat!” she yelled.

“Jesse,” I said, trying to remain calm, “turn the little lever under the knob...it opens the door.”

This insight proved worthless. For some reason the lad couldn’t or wouldn’t figure out the mechanism, a development that slowly but surely precipitated an unholy sea change in yours truly. I suffered a parenting setback. In the same tone I was wont to use on deckhands on oceangoing tugs during a crisis, I ordered my daughter topside to maintain a proper lookout, a sensible suggestion that she refused to take. Then, in an identical tone, I ordered my son to open the hatch in the foredeck and climb out, another sensible suggestion, except he claimed to be unable to turn the hatch dogs.

Things went all to hell then. Jesse began pounding on the door with renewed vigor, and Kelley directed a withering gaze at me before breaking into tears and wailing, “I’m not one of those stupid guys you work with on your stupid boats.”

The truth hit me like a sack of fish heads. Mere hours into our summer vacation, and both of my kids hated my guts.

I looked off through the windows at the sparkling waters beyond—the peacefulness of the scene elicited from me the only inspired idea of the day, indeed the only inspired idea of the whole trip.

I opened my toolbox and extracted some tools. Before long, I had the prison door off its hinges.

“Dad,” my son said, walking out a free man, “I wanna go home.”

Sniffling, Kelly seconded the motion.

So we did, immediately. From a normal, stay-at-home father’s perspective, it seemed like the only thing to do.

Previous page > Part 1: Weekend cruising with a couple of kids can be wonderful. Or not. > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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