Who knows what my grandchildren will turn out to be when they grow up. I don't, but one thing I am sure of is they'll be competent boaters. For some years now, when they have borrowed the boat with their mum and dad , it is Jacob (now15) that I put in charge of looking after the boat with the authority to tell the adults what to do. Grace is only five, well nearly six I suppose, but already she makes a fair job of steering Herbie down the canal. I get used to it, but even I was surprised that when I was chatting to the volunteer lock keeper at the Watford staircase the other day, Grace calmly got on with opening the lock paddles, red before white, and opening the gates when ready.
I expect someone will question the wisdom of me letting her do this, so I should say that I was only a few feet away and had my eye on her all the time, and she was wearing a life jacket. I should also add that I only let her wind paddles up, and not down, so the ratchet keeps her safe. The point is though that she knew precisely what had to be done without any instruction from me. Quite a lot of adults don't know how to do staircase locks. Of course she can only manage it when the paddles and gates are light, which most at Watford are.
Is she growing up too quickly? Nah. She's still a cheeky little kid who likes her bed time stories.
Maybe when Kath and I are too old to manage the boat and the locks, the grandchildren will take us out boating. Wouldn't that be nice?