August has been a hell of a month in all kinds of ways.
Expensive, expansive, adventurous, exciting, stressful too. But the candle on the cake came at about 0300 a few days ago.
I'm on days now, but for the first half of the week, I was standing watch at night, 1800-0600. And although my son has been working on one of my company's tugboats for about 5 months, I have never worked with his tug while he's on it. Until now.
So he was on the captain's watch (0600-1200, then 1800-0000) and it being 0300 I figured I missed him again. Sleep is in short supply on a tugboat, the 6 and 6 watches being what they are.
We were coming alongside a ship out in Bay Ridge anchorage in NY, and I was very happily surprised when my kid comes up the ladder and jumps on deck along with the other tugboat deckhand.
So we got caught up, chatted for a minute, and then it was time to nudge up to the ship and raft up.
My son's had good luck in that he's mostly had good crewmen to shadow during his training process, and I had a real moment, seeing him working competently as I started my routine. For the most part, the deckhands are calling out distances and relative motion to the tug operator, and I'm calling out information to the deckhands either to keep them informed, or to repeat to the tug operator so my hands are free. While I have the same radio at my belt as the deckhands, I prefer to have my hands and mind one step more independent than that, as I have my own slightly different priorities than the tug operator. We have overlapping interests and separate interests, more or less. Safety, securing the barge, etc, but I have to know where my deck cranes can reach, where the ship's fueling manifolds are, and where the best spots to run mooring lines up to the ship will be to keep me snug alongside when the tug leaves later on.
I was about as proud as could be to see my son working seamlessly with the other deckhand and I could hear him talking to the mate on the tug and the deckhand too. "Got it." 'He needs 20 more feet aft" "I got the headline on the capstan, not heaving in, bow's hanging 6 feet off the ship, good coverage on the yokies now." Terse, almost muttering, which means his mind was multitasking, which is exactly what a deckhand needs- to be present in the moment and also thinking ahead while observing everything and reporting only what is needed.
Not going to bullshit, I got a little emotional, had one of those 'holy shit, he's grown up' moments that rocked my back on my heels. And he has. High school leftist propaganda and programming near to left him a useless article, full of subversive marxist ideology that ruined his education for the most part. The whole 'math is racist, white people are the devil' shit even though I'm phosphorescently white, and indeed, he himself is part honky.
6 months in the real adult world and that trip to Brazil to see what real life is has changed much. He's always been one of those kids who can more or less do basic calculus in his head, and I wasn't able to help him on his homework after Calc 2 in high school. He wants to be an engineer, and sees marine engineering as a good fusion of tech and hands on that will let him make 6 figures and have a second career at home in his off time, hustling. He wants to be a landlord, lol. Who says that at age 20? He's right, by my lights. And magically his politics shifted significantly after a few pay stubs, as such things often do. And Brazil, in Brazil I saw a side of my kid I had never seen- he bounced around the family like a ping-pong ball, talking and being in the moment, enjoying everyone, just like his mom, who is the most social and friendly person I know. He got to hear about my relatives' resentment at the lack of opportunity in Brazil, and how hard they worked for so little, which is all too true. Every single one of my wife's people have a second job. Hell, the cousin who's a busy clinical psychologist sells things out of his car as a side gig. People don't think anything about it. They're hustlers, the Brazilians.
All that, and in that moment when I stopped what I was doing just for maybe 20 seconds and watching my son work, absolutely swollen with pride, I feel like I helped raise a good 'un. I think he's going to be OK in our broken-hearted world. So I guess it's OK I was all emotive and such on the inside. Along with several moments in my recent trip, this is yet another thing that happened in August that I believe will stay with me for the entirety of my life.
Couldn't be more proud.