The Boy who would be Captain

This happened a long time ago to a boy, which had a lasting effect on his self-esteem.

Be careful what you say to children, it may shape their future.

Heading to the countryside to visit the relatives had become an annual summer holiday event.

The Boy looked forward to it all year. He loved when his Dad drove their family car out of their urban estate to make the 3 hour journey to visit his cousins.

At home he only had 2 sisters to play with (boring), while his 3 cousins were all boys. He was the older of the four, at 12, they were 11,10 and 9 years old. He had great fun when staying on holidays with them. They all got to share a room too which was brilliant.

They had the coolest of toys and his Aunt and Uncle were really nice. They were so lucky.

Sometimes he would wish that they were his Mam and Dad too, but he knew that wish would never come true. But at least while on holidays his Mam and Dad didn’t have any arguments.

Last year a relation of the cousins, who loved fishing in the local lake, had told them about the new rowing boat he was thinking of buying. He promised them ‘a spin’ the next time they were visiting.

The Boy had never been on a boat before, and it was something he looked forward to with excitement all year. He had told all his friends before the end of school term that He was going to be on a boat on his holidays, and that he might even get to try rowing it too; they were all jealous. None of his friends had ever been on a boat either. He day-dreamed about being the Captain of the boat, with his cousins and going on adventures like Huckleberry Finn.

Well the day came and both families headed off in their packed cars for the lake. His Aunt had made up a large picnic basket and all the children had their wellies on, just in case they got to explore the forest surrounding the lake.

It was going to be a great day, the cousins relation was meeting them there with his new boat.

When they arrived at the shore line all the Boy could see was the boat moored up beside a small wooden pier by the rocks. It was a gorgeous blue, and everything was clean and new and shiny. It had 3 planks of wood that spread across the width of the boat for seats and 2 big oars lying across in the middle. They were nearly the length of the boat.

The Boy was so excited.

The adults decided to have lunch first, then have a chat, so the kids got to go off exploring in the forest for a while. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Then the time finally came to load up the boat. The two Mammies decided to stay behind; his own Mam hated the water anyway.

The relation got on the boat first, to settle it for getting everyone in. Then his Uncle and his cousins boarded, then his sisters (because they were younger than him), then his Dad. The Boy stretched out his leg to get in but his Dad put his hand up to stop him.

‘You’re too heavy to come in, go back to your mother’ his Dad said.

The Boy stepped back and watched them move away from the pier without another word. He saw the delight on his cousins faces as they sat on their seat up the front of the boat, his Uncle and the boat owner had the oars, and there was his Dad and his sisters at the back laughing away.

He tried not to cry but he couldn’t stop the trickle of tears that flowed. It wasn’t his fault he was overweight, his mother always insisted he finished everything she put on his plate. ‘You’re a growing boy’ she would say.

He stood there and watched them until his legs got tired, then he just flopped to the ground to sit and wait. He didn’t know how long they were out there but it felt like an eternity.

His Mam and Aunt didn’t even notice him or if they did they never called out to him to join them at the picnic bench they had spent their entire afternoon sitting at chatting.

When the boat eventually returned to shore they all piled out and giggled passed him like he didn’t exist. The boat wasn’t going back out like he had hoped.

With his heart broken he swore to himself that he would never get his hopes up for anything ever again.

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5 Responses to The Boy who would be Captain

  1. LuMp in my throat reading that.
    Our words as parents can have such consequences.

  2. WESTOWN LIFE says:

    Constantly amazed at how thoughtless people are even in their comments to other grown ups let alone children. One moment, one comment can stay with you forever.

  3. Words can really hurt. I think we all need to be more mindful of what we say and how we say it. I saw a great quote recently, “They won’t remember what your said but they will remember how it made them feel”. I try to remember this.

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