Wednesday, February 04, 2004


"...An ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through the night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year..."

TinyTuna is sailing -- and what a sight it is.

From the day she was born, TinyTuna has always been a bundle of contradictions. She is stubborn and opinionated, and yet she is unbelievably caring and compassionate. She is wise beyond her years, yet wonderfully childlike. She has friends who are septuagenarians, and friends who are Kindergarteners. She enjoys attending the ballet, the symphony and the theatre, and still sings The VeggieTale™ Hairbrush Song at the top of her lungs.

All children sail in and out of time – journeying from one age to another – but after all these years I am still amazed at the ease at which TinyTuna handles her excursions. Some of her trips are rough, some are comical, but all seem to be taken with an air of confidence, excitement and joy that belies her age. I encourage her adventures, but have always made sure I was sailing nearby to help her when the winds became stormy or the night too dark to see. It was a comfort to me as much as to her knowing she reached the next shore safely.

As she gets older, her voyages are longer, and she looks back a little less often. Although I am still nearby to be sure she is safe, I try to stay behind her, rather than next to her, giving her the space and freedom she needs to sail how she wishes. Some days it is a careful tack towards shore. Other days it is full speed ahead. With TinyTuna, you never know.

This week I was able to catch a glimpse of her in mid-voyage. In one evening she was busy watching a movie about fairies, then writing deep personal thoughts in a journal, and then choreographing a ballet in her bedroom. Once perfected, she performed for us in the living room. As I watched her, I could see her dancing while she sailed -- through the night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year. I saw the wonder of a child change to the concerns of an adolescent change to the creative expression of an adult. Seamlessly. Flawlessly. It was magical.

As a soon-to-be ten year old, her next destination seems to be so far away. It is a land whose shores are filled with clothes, hairstyles, jewelry, music, movies, books and boys. She hears the siren call and is anxious to sail. I am not so sure.

I want her to stay on the island of childhood as long as possible. I want her to gather all the treasures this place has for her before she sets sail for lands unknown. A part of me wants to anchor her boat and make her stay. But if I do, I know she’ll pull and pull and eventually break the rope. She’ll sail away; not realizing until too late that the anchor has been left behind. I am certain that at times there will be rough seas. She'll need that anchor to ride out a storm.

Instead, I’m letting out the rope a little at a time. Although she is safely moored, I let out the line a bit more with each voyage. She can test the waters and sail a little farther each day, but it is a comfort to her as much as to me knowing that at the end of her voyage, she has a safe harbor.

...But max stepped into his private boat and waved good-bye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found supper waiting for him and it was still hot."

(Excerpts taken from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. HarperCollins, 1988)