A Child’s Life at Sea – Part 1

My brother bangs the side of his cot as a huge wave crashes into the wooden side of the boat and soon after my little round-shaped window is submerged in water. The boat, in which we are sleeping, or are supposed to be sleeping in, topples over and my brother holds on for dear life as he is pushed by the mere force of the ocean towards the edge of his cot. We both laugh out loud and I shout in excitement: It’s like being rocked in a huge cradle! ‘ Yeah, ‘ adds my brother, ‘ or a hammock!’ We both giggle at that, and soon it is my turn to be hurled over sideways by King Neptune. But it is then that I feel it. It sneaks up on me like a mischievous current, but when it starts pushing its way through there is no going back. I cringe. But I have to go, it’s impossible to pretend my way out of it. ‘ Daaaaaaad!! I have to pee!’ I shout. My father soon appears in the tiny wooden door separating our sleeping quarters from the deck. ‘ You really really have to?’ My father sighs. I nod my head apologetically. ‘ Okay, but you can’t go to the bathroom in this weather. To sea is too rough.’ The bathroom is all the way on the other side of the boat. ‘ But I HAVE to go!’ I insist. My father looks thoughtful, but then he smiles and disappears. He is, however, soon back. With a bucket. He places the bucket on the floor next to my cot. ‘ If you can’t go to the toilet, I bring the toilet to you,’ he says and smiles. I giggle as I worm my way out of my sleeping bag and slowly climb down from the cot. ‘ Incoming!!’ Shouts my brother, and I brace myself. Luckily the floor is not much larger than the bucket so it still remains standing up when the wave hits. I can’t stop giggling as I squat over the bucket. When I am done my father collects the bucket. ‘ Are you gonna throw the pee in the sea?’ Teases my brother. My father ignores him. Relived I climb back into my cot, still giggling a bit. ‘ My sister peed in a bucket! My sister peed in a bucket!’ My brother makes his voice into a sing-song rhyme, and I stick my tongue out at him. But I am giggling too much to make an angry face. And soon we are back playing our wave-game again. It is a seven hour crossing. I can hear my mother complaining to my father on the deck : ‘can’t they just go to sleep.’


Summers at sea

smith j w
Art by the lovely Jessie Wilcox Smith

Every summer I spend at sea
My mother, my father, my brother and me

Art by the wonderful Jessie Wilcox Smith

We sail away on the summer breeze
on our gallant ship to foreign seas
And I play with children from distant shores
I lend them my dollies and my pink little horse

wilcox smith sea
Art by the magical Jessie Wilcox Smith

All day long we have such fun
and when we get hungry we go for a run
into the forest until we see
that special meadow of strawberry

Art by the beautiful Jessie Wilcox Smith

We fill our milk cups to the top
then happily like bunnies we hop
home to mother to eat that heavenly meal
of strawberries and sugar and cream

sea side
Art by the amazing Jessie Wilcox Smith

All day long my brother sits and reads his book
but I can see his jealous look
for even though he’s too big to play
I think he would like to anyway

j smith sea
Art by the gorgeous Jessie Wilcox Smith

But when we play pirates my brother’s the best
he knows stories of secret treasure chests
and he reads out loud from his book
terrible tales of Captain Hook

Art by the wonderful Jessie Wilcox Smith

Then off I go to play again
until the sun sets at ten
for on summer holiday
I am allowed to stay
out and play
until there is no more day

willcox sea
Art by the beautiful Jessie Wilcox Smith

In the morning when I wake from my sleep
I can hear the waves of the ocean sweep
and swoosh and sigh and giggle so sweet
to invite me out to morning tea
and I say thank you Mr. Sea
but I think my mother is already calling me

jessie willcox smith
Art by the legendary Jessie Wilcox Smith

Freshly baked rolls and a scoop of ice cream
isn’t it just like being in a dream!
every day a new adventure begins
and you never know what tomorrow brings
pirates, mermaids, a new summer friend
Oh, I wish the summer would never end!

sea life
Art by the beloved Jessie Wilcox Smith

Oh, how I love my summers at sea
my mother, my father, my brother and me

Art by the very talented Jessie Wilcox Smith