I had the honor of chaperoning Full Speed and some classmates for their sixth grade trip to Sea World. Thankfully, Mad Dog was able to attend. Trust me, if he can manage a myriad of employees at work, seven twelve-year-old boys were a piece of cake. It helped that they were all well-behaved, too.
As the day drew to a close, Mad Dog escorted our gang back to the bus home and Full Speed stayed with me. We decided to hit one more ride before meeting up with Mad Dog at the exit and driving home separately from the class (all sanctioned by Full Speed’s teacher of course). Of all the things he could pick, Full Speed chose the flamingo-shaped paddle boats. I wasn’t entirely sure this is what he truly wanted, but he’s a smart kid who takes after his Dad. Sometimes you pick the stuff that you only kind of like because you know the important lady in your life would LOVE it. And I did. I really, really did.
After I had paid the fee for our twenty minutes, we fitted ourselves with life jackets and headed to the dock. The attendant quickly went over instructions. He said something to the effect of ‘go left to go left, go right to go right’. He was referencing the way to manipulate the steering apparatus that was centered between our seats. I followed his directions and we were off to the races….but, not really. The harder we pedaled and the more I tried to maneuver us away from the dock, the more we stayed put. Eventually, I was able to get us crookedly angled away as long as we pedaled BACKWARDS. Let’s just say, I shouldn’t quit my day job.
As we slowly and awkwardly floated out to sea, I casually said, “Full Speed, why don’t you try steering?”
He grabbed the control and in less than 30 seconds had us on a straight path. He steered the paddle boat as if he had been doing it his whole life. Turns out, you didn’t ‘go left to go left’. Instead, you actually had to do the opposite. Since I wasn’t particularly prideful about my gaping inefficiencies as a paddle boat captain, I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Apparently, knowing how to actually steer properly makes everything a whole lot more smooth.
As we floated about, I had this out-of-body moment. It was almost as if I was looking at Full Speed as how he could possibly be as a grown man. Not surprisingly, he appeared a lot like Mad Dog.
I thought back to when I was twelve. At that point in my life some fundamental aspects of my personality were formed. My sensitivity, my empathy, and my creativity are all still a part of the grown-up version of me. As I looked at Full Speed calmly navigating the waters before us, I thought if he has even half this amount of ease and confidence as a grown-up, he is going to do just fine.
Best paddle boat ride ever.