Longtail boats are like big canoes powered by an engine. Colorful ribbons and flower garlands adorn the prow, appeasing angry water spirits. The interiors are painted bright, jaunty colors. Longtail boats are beautiful to behold, but noisy to ride in.
This morning there were three passengers in the boat besides myself- a father, a mother, and their three-year old daughter. When the boat driver dropped the engine into the water with a deafening roar, I watched the child go rigid with fear. Her eyes got huge and she started screaming and crying. Her fingers flexed and she waved her hands in terror. She looked like the world was ending. She was terrified of the noise.
When I was a child, my parents would take us on ferry boat rides to Vashon Island. We would stand outside as the ferry engine started and the water outside the boat began to swirl. Everything was exciting until the men lifted the heavy chains from the dock and dropped them in huge coils onto the metal prow of the ferry. The sound was like a million guns going off at once, an explosion that violated the air.
Luckily, Daddy was always there. Early on, I learned that just before the ferry men dropped the chains, I could press one ear against Daddy’s denim-clad thigh, and he would cover my other ear with his hand. I would wrap my arms around his leg as the chains dropped, and he would hold me against him reassuringly. I always felt safe against Daddy’s leg. I could watch the excitement in safety, my delicate ears protected.
Today, when the girl’s eyes got huge in terror and she was moments from a meltdown, her Dad lifted her into his lap and pressed one of her ears against his chest. With the other arm, he held her close and covered her exposed ear with his palm. She clung to him like a monkey on a palm tree in a hurricane. But by the end of the ride, I saw that her small body had relaxed, and, both ears still protected, she was dipping her little paw into a bag of chips her mom had handed her. Safe and sound, snug in a world of strong arms and potato chips.
Thank goodness for Daddies.