What happens when you give Ryan paddles

Ryan loves boats. He can spend a solid hour at the marina watching men bring their boats in and out of the water. I try to keep him out of the way as he runs up and down the docks to get as close as possible to the point where the truck’s trailer meets the hull of the ship. Last month some friendly idiot actually let Ryan drive his boat; he did pretty well steering, and was psyched for the opportunity to chase geese from on the water.

So yesterday afternoon Ryan and I rented a tandem kayak for an hour and paddled around near Walnut Beach. The owner of Scoot and Paddle outfitted us with life vests and an emergency whistle and gave us some tips on rowing technique (turn your torso toward your rowing hand to engage your core) and water safety (paddle into the wind, don’t even try to go out to Charles Island today). If you’re in south-central Connecticut, I highly recommend renting equipment from these folks – super friendly, very helpful, seemingly knowledgeable, and patient with Ryan’s always-awkward attempts at making conversation.

Doesn’t it look peaceful without Ryan:

Stolen from Instagram @ScootAndPadde

I put the boy in the front seat so I could keep an eye on him. This was prudent.

Although he had his own paddles, I can’t say he was especially helpful. Instead of rowing, he occasionally dipped the paddles in the water and declared “I’m rowing as fast as I can!” When he wasn’t rowing, he was often letting one end of the paddle drag in the water, or holding the paddles in the path of my rowing, or leaning as far to one side of the kayak as he could. I think he discovered every possible method of disrupting the balance of a boat.
I rowed parallel with the shore, admiring some impressive waterfront homes. We passed the occasional swimmer; Ryan insisted that each and every one of them was drowning and needed us to rescue them from imminent death. Two young women were stand-up paddle boarding near us; Ryan wanted to rescue them as well.

After half a mile or so, we turned around and passed between the pilings of a defunct dock. We rowed past Walnut Beach, crowded with families and fishermen. Ryan was quite taken with some teenagers who were jumping off a dock over and over again. He was so focused on them he didn’t even notice when he was garroted by a fishing line I hadn’t seen in time to avoid.

The waves were strong enough that if I briefly stopped rowing our kayak would turn 90 degrees or more and it would take considerable effort to get back on course. Between the waves and Ryan’s lack of cooperation, we didn’t get very far in our hour. If we had wanted to row out to someplace worth exploring, we would have needed to spring for at least the half-day rental agreement, but I doubt Ryan’s patience for this activity would have lasted that long.

The takeaway: Ryan likes looking at boats and riding in boats, but don’t expect him to help row.

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Meredith Zolty
My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at
Meredith Zolty


My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at

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