(Our kids with their cruising buddies at TTSA in Trinidad last summer)
Our kids have been living aboard and cruising for almost five years now. I often forget what a different lifestyle they have than the kids back home. Our life is an everyday "normal" life to them now. They think nothing of living in close quarters with their parents and siblings. They know that kids they meet and befriend will inevitably either leave or be left behind. They also know that they will probably see those kids again at some point and that when that happens it's like they have not even been apart.
Our youngest, Benny, who just turned seven was asking me the other day why other people wanted to live on land. He was so little when we moved aboard that he doesn't remember any other home. He swims like a fish and the water around our boat is as much a playground to him as the backyard is to landlubber kids. He lays up on the mainsail on the boom and plays with his toys to get away from his brothers.
Our oldest, Jimmy, is 17 and as he struggles through the final years of high school with his father as his teacher and trys to decide what he wants to do with his life he has naturally drifted to a career on the water (the Coast Guard.) As I watch him go through this process I realize that almost certainly my children will all probably end up doing something that has to do with the ocean.
EmilyAnne is 13 in a few weeks and has started talking about becoming a marine biologist so she can work with marine mammals. She is also quite an artist and you won't be surprised that most of her art is mermaids, dolphins, and sailboats.
Our boat is so much more than just a boat. It is a home and even more it is a member or extension of our family. When the kids talk about the boat they call Wandering Dolphin, "her" and you can see the pride in their faces when they are talking with other cruising kids about her. It's fun to listen to a little boy tell his friend how great she sails to windward.
I am often asked if I sometimes regret our choice to move on the boat, or if I think it has been the right choice for our children... I can honestly say that the only regret I have is that we didn't move aboard sooner!