Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cruise report #4: debarkation

“…and there is a time for every event under heaven” — Eccl. 3:1

After all the wonderful cruising and excursions, our trip finally came to a close. It went so quickly, but vacations seem to always end that way. We plan and plan, finally embark on the trip and then suddenly the journey ends. And all our wishing won’t change the outcome: the trip is over. It’s true in parenting too, but not necessarily sad. There comes a day when our kids leave home and go fly on their own. How they fly has everything to do with how well we prepared them for the debarkation.

Debarkation is defined as “unloading from a ship or plane.” In truth, it could be defined as getting everyone off the boat as quickly as possible so they can reload the boat for the next cruise. Debarking is simply the end. Embarking has a better ring to it, but most things begin and most things end. Accepting the end is the hard part.

A couple of days before the end of our cruise, the cruise director (Chris) began to tell us about the end of the journey. Through handouts they gave us, reports on the cabin TV and announcements over the PA, Carnival cruise-line prepared us for the final day on the ship. Carnival has obviously learned over the years that educating the passengers reduces their stress and anxiety. Too often, our teens aren't well prepared to head out to be on their own. It’s all too easy to overprotect and shield our kids instead of preparing them for the inevitable end of the journey. Parents say, “Oh, we’ll deal with that later,” and then suddenly it’s time for our teens to launch out on their own. Some kids go on to college while others hit the job market. Either way, they need to be prepared.

Getting our luggage off the ship was a huge issue. The cruise line gave us several options on how to deal with our bags. Option #1 was to let them handle our luggage. We were to simply sit tight until they came to get our bags. That option was definitely easier, but would take a while. Option #2 was for us to carry our own luggage from the ship. It required more work, but was much quicker. We chose that option. We didn't have to wait for the Carnival personnel, we scurried off the boat when they called our floor, and we didn't have to “tip” anyone. It’s best to choose option #2 when it comes to letting our kids live out their own lives. Our kids need to learn to carry their own bags. There is a lot of life waiting for them as they journey into being adults, and the more practice they have bearing responsibility before they leave home, the more prepared they will be for life.

Finally, the time came for us to leave. They called our deck number and we walked off the boat. It was time to move on. We considered hiding in the closet in our room and going back out on the next cruise, but we figured another week of unlimited dining might not be too healthy. We boarded the shuttle to our car and began the drive back to the Ozarks. Back to cool weather, back to work, back to RESPONSIBILITY! The “R” word was hard to swallow when we were used to being wined and dined, sleeping in and lying around. But truth is, deep inside, we are fulfilled when we’re being used. Teaching our kids to bear responsibility for their lives is the ultimate goal. They might whine about it, but deep inside, it brings them fulfillment.

So, we’ve debarked and we’re back to reality in the Ozarks. The end of trips isn’t so difficult if there’s a larger goal in mind. We need to be sure we’re constantly teaching our kids how to fly on their own.

Then, when they leave the ship, it’s okay, bags and all.

By Eric Joseph Staples©

1 comment:

MarytheKay said...

I get your posts in our Inbox, so I rarely jump over here to comment. But, I just wanted to say THANK YOU today. This is right where Dave and I are today--planning ahead, and trying to make sure our girls have what they need for debarkation. Sometimes those decisions are tough, and not at all black and white easy to decide. Thanks for your encouragement.