29 August 2012, by Darren Lim
Little duckling learns to swim
I remember a few years ago, when I was a member with the SAF Yatch Club, I had seen some children out at sea, each on a little dinghy with their instructor next to them on a power boat, instructing them over the loud-hailer about what to do and what not to do.
I was most impressed with these children, youngest of which was only 7, that they were able to single-handedly take on the seas to sail for themselves,; albeit in the tiny crafts they were on. Having taken a sailing course myself, I understood how difficult it feels to be out there in the middle of the big sea, taking on the weather, the wakes and the sun…..alone. It was definitely no place for whininess or even any weakness, for that matter, for you have to be alert to any changes in the elements, like wind direction, tide, currents and sometimes even flying fishes, to steer yourself on course .. Out at sea, you are on your own and any signs of “giving up” would end you in dire consequences; so you are trained to be independent and be quick with your thinking and responses and even have the tenacity to hold out in all possible ways for survival. In my heart I applauded those parents who sent their kids for this course and secretly, I too cherished this dream of sending my children for the same too, when I have them.
Last Thursday, Kristen attended her first sailing lesson on the Optimist at the SAF Sembawang Yatch Club. Apart from Evelyn’s concerns that she was going to get too much sun and not going to put on her cap while she’s out under the hot sun (the lessons were after all from 930am-5pm for 4 days over 2 weeks!), all was well and Kristen enjoyed her sailing lessons tremendously. She had great instructors who were thorough in teaching them what to do, for example like when their boats capsized ;and had great friends who helped one another out when practicing their drills etc. When Kristen came back after her lesson that day, she even requested to pack her own bag for the sailing lesson the next day, took out her “homework” (which was really some questions to test their understanding of what had been taught that day and some reflections she had about that day’s lesson in general) and insisted on finishing it before dinner, even though she was already hungry ! I was floored and I even almost cried !All that character traits and attitudes that I had hope to see and have been trying to inculcate in her all these while— independence, responsibility, having a passion for things you do etc, were so vividly played out in front of me, just after a day of sailing! It was almost like a dream come true–my little girl has come of age !
Now, so much for my inspiration sharing ,but before you start calling SAF Yatch club to sign your kids up too for the course, please take note that only children 7 and above are eligible for the course. And upon reflection, it dawned on me that while Kristen may have seemingly ‘transformed’ just over a day’s sailing, the real magic that had been behind this transformation was really all that many hours of instruction, ‘pep’ talk and even (harsh?) ‘discipline’ that afforded this moment to happen with the right catalyst (the sailing course)!
Just like she would never have learnt how to sail, had she not gone through the preparation process of building those muscles through crawling, walking , running and finally learning to swim, she would never have understood what being independent and responsible was without all that guidance and even reprimand that came from us in the past.
So let us not be weary from doing what is right, for in time our efforts will reap results and our little ducklings will finally learn to swim!