My daughter punched a dolphin.
“Nope,” she said, pulled back, and slugged him.
And that’s when I learned my lesson, she is not like my other daughter. She is not like me. I needed to travel 4, 500 kilometres away from home to figure that out.
My youngest daughter and I made our first trip together earlier this year, and chose to start out small and hit up Cuba, mostly because it was something much different than my oldest first trip, but partially because I was concerned that a longer flight might make my always fidgety Squeakers lose her shit.
We had a wonderful time, did lots of fun stuff. Tried lots of new things. But as usual with travelling, the lessons I learned were my best souvenir.
The first thing I learned is that my youngest talks a lot. I mean, a lot. Way more than I could keep up with, or even respond to. Sometimes she was talking to me. Sometimes it was to strangers nearby. And a lot of the times, she was just talking for the sake of talking. A few times I would interrupt her, hearing that she was in the middle of a conversation that I didn’t know she was part of, question if she was indeed talking to me, only to find out that I was not a part of the conversation and I was not even invited.
Which begs the question, why didn’t I ever notice that before? Well, it’s pretty simple. I couldn’t hear her before. Unless she is in some sort of distress, and then she can reach decibels that can shatter glass, my youngest speaks softly. She’s just plain drowned out at home. Besides the music always playing at home, and my oldest who just overpowers her, I just didn’t hear my little one. I don’t talk unless I have to (and even then, I have no issues with letting an awkward silence bloom in favour over having to fill it with surface banter) and yet my youngest doesn’t stop.
The second thing I learned is how much better she is at meeting people than I am. She introduced me to so many people and told me their life stories. There was a family who she formed such a bond with that not only did she become best friends with the youngest daughter, but somehow managed to learn the names of the entire family, learn their history, where they lived, and even organized a party at their house when we all got back to Canada. She had interesting conversations with these people, in both English and French, and I’m struggling and failing to make small talk.
And the last and most important thing I learned was that she is a details person. I am not. Neither is my oldest. Give me the big picture, and I’ll fill in the details as I go along. My oldest is the same way. I tell her the plan, maybe a few pointers if it’s something new, and away we go.
My youngest needs the details. She needs to know what size of bus we’ll be travelling on. She needs to know what we’ll eat while we are there. She needs to know as many details as I can pour into her head. She needs to know that when we are swimming with dolphins, the dolphins will be close enough to touch her.
Our morning started out great. I had told her the night before that we were swimming with dolphins. She was excited the next morning as I re-told her the plan.
Get ready, get on the bus, go swim with dolphins.
She was still excited when she learned that I neglected to inform her that she would be wearing not only a life jacket, but goggles as well.
And she was still excited when she learned that I neglected to inform her that we would need to walk down a long pier, climb down a ladder, and float around in an ocean pen with dolphins.
But when said dolphins started to swim towards her, invading that detail-seeking bubble of hers, well, that was her final straw as far as missing details. My soft spoken little girl lost her shit.
Fearful that I might not know this detail as well, she let me know, in ear piercing shrills, that the dolphins were getting closer.
And when that failed to somehow get my attention, she then proceeded to try and drown me by attempting to climb up and stand on my head.
And when that still failed to get me to move into action, to whisk her away from these dolphins who apparently didn’t know the plan either, she socked that misbehaving marine mammal right in the nose… er… beak.
Don’t worry, there were no animals harmed in the making of this life lesson. The dolphin simply swam on, unfazed, and even returned later to try again. Squeakers and the dolphin made up and hugged it out at the end.
But my lesson was learned. I made sure she knew every detail of our adventure the next day. She was an expert on snorkelling the next day, without ever having donned flippers.
(Except for the star fish. But that’s another story.)
I keep the music just a bit lower now and make sure I listen to for her little voice so she doesn’t become drowned out again.