Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Boat Phobia

Remembering Peter giving Kristin hopefully a loving push into the water, also reminded me that was the year Peter decided to hate boats. Loved airplanes, hated boats. Do not know why, but Peter had somehow unknowingly developed a strong hatred, really a phobia about boats. I really did not realize that fact, until several years later, when on the same lake Peter absolutely, no way, refused to go on the boat, this being a pontoon, AKA party boat, which in my mind was absolutely harmless. So, during this week, on a very warm day, that would be an incredibly hot day, I thought that if I held Peter on my lap while we slowly cruised around the Chain of Lakes, holding him and Big Bird, and calmly telling him that he would be just fine, that he would learn to love boats. This boat went very slow, had nice fence around the boat, had great cushy seats, no waves, how could one not like the boat. At least, he would fall asleep. I don't think so.... Peter spent the entire time, screaming, as I held him tight, along with Big Bird and the pound of sweat developing along all my body parts. Fearing he would bolt, I did not dare let go.
That boat ride turned into the never ending boat ride and only served to reinforce his hatred of boats. So much for my thinking of exposing him slowly to what I perceived as a phobia.
The boat phobia continued, with many notes to teachers explaining that Peter would most likely not go on the boat trip, and many teaching assistant spending the day on the pier with Peter. Several years later, traveling again with friends, this particular group decided to take a car ferry across a large river. Thinking Peter would be safe inside the car and no boat phobia, I was surprised that Peter who appeared calm as we went onto the ferry, jumped from the car as soon as we hit water. Luckily he ran into Clete who most likely aborted a swim by Peter. Clete proceeded to calmly talk to Peter while we crossed the river. I think there was hugging involved, and a shout new BFF thing going on during that interval. Clete and Peter discussing the problems of the world, or water, whatever, it worked to keep Peter on board.
In another major boat event, we were in Playa de Carmen planning to visit the island of Cozumel to go scuba diving. Needing to board a Hydrofoil to make the cross, the word on the street was not use the boat word prior to the event in hopes that Peter would just walk the gang plank and not even notice it was a boat. The "boat" being rather large and sort of looking like an airplane...maybe...the eternal optimist thinking this would be the day.
Yep, the entire group boarded the large enclosed cabin boat,happy to be spending the day on Cozumel as Peter and I watched as he ran, refused, to get on that boat. No cajoling would convince him to get on the boat that "Why Peter is it just like an airplane". Waving good bye to my friends, saying it would be okay, and telling them to have good day, I decided this called for a downright good ole, pity party right on the dock. So there sat Peter and I, tears flowing down my cheeks, no holding back. It was not long, never one to be down too long, that a thought crossed my mind. Mmm... in Mexico the pharmacies sell Valium over the counter...maybe a bit of Valium would be just enough to relax Peter. Okay, before you think I am a really bad mother, I think Mr. T had to take Valium when he went on a plane. So off we went in search of drugs.We found a tiny pharmacy close by, and then with my best Spanish, I wrote, and through my arms in the air, spoke loudly, and secured a small dose of Valium and a bottle of juice. With renewed hope, I walked back to the pier, mixed the drug, and gave it to Peter to drink, which he dutifully did. All this being watched by two locals, who turned out to be very helpful after Peter's stomach decided it did not want the concoction. They could not have been nicer in helping me clean up Peter. No language barrier there, just camaraderie in the cleaning process.
About that time, the ferry returned and Peter, most likely not wanting to drink again, cautiously agreed to go on to the "Boat". So we made it on, him standing and squeezing a pole, and I in a recycled airplane seat. During the trip, realizing I had not visited a "ladies" in hours, engaged the help of another local couple who agreed in Spanglish that they would watch him, I was able to leave him shortly.
The boat phobia continued until Peter entered his later high school years where miraculously his teachers were able to convince him to ride boats on their many field trips. When I was told he went on the boat, amazed to that this could really take place, I made the usual phone calls and emails announcing another milestone had been crossed. Never understanding the why of the phobia before and the new acceptance of boats.
What is was about boats I will never know. I do know, it was painful, downright scary for Peter to be on a boat. Again, a time I wished I could get an answer..what is it about boats..please fill me in on the secret. The only answer...the mumbled "Idunnoknow". During that time, we had boat conversations, do not use the boat word, tried various ways to help him deal with boats. Peter, as only Peter can do, in his own time made the decision. Today, he is the first one on the boat...go figure!!

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