“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.”

G.K. Chesterton

I take every opportunity possible to make the “bring it in” call. You’ve brought it in before. It’s the moment right after a pep talk when the coach says, “Bring it in!” Everyone puts one hand in the circle and the whole team says something really encouraging like, “Kill the other team,” or something like that, preferably at volume 10 simultaneously throwing the pile of heavy hands into the air. Ren and I have raised our children on a steady diet of “bring it ins” and chants-but those are for another story.

Because of our relentless devotion to everything team oriented Ani and Cape are actually growing up with a healthy concept of team work, unity and interdependence. In a world where independence is heralded as the paramount characteristic trait we could not be more proud that our children are learning to rely on each other. Ren was especially excited when we inadvertently showed our children first hand how fruitful the harvest can be with a little interdependent determination.

The opportunity for the lesson presented itself while we were sailing the cayes of Belize. Just before sunset, in route to our anchorage du nuit, Jade, our sailing trimaran, lumbered over yet another world class coral reef. We had already been diving and exploring that day but just one more seemed in order. Ren was inclined to bring his Hawaiian sling along, just in case the option to feed the family fish or lobster presented itself.

As per our regular routine either Ren or myself pulled the dinghy along by her painter as the other reconciled themselves to become Cape’s personal diving platform. We’ve tried it all; boogie boards, pool noodles, etc. He prefers the freedom of swimming alongside us as opposed to the confines of a water float. He swims along until needing a break when he retreats to the back of the unencumbered parent. It is actually a good system. Ani is pretty independent in the water these days and swims along side, very much a functioning part of the crew these days.

Being seasoned freedivers, instructors, and most importantly role models to our budding freedivers we take safety seriously. That means one up, one down. Ren takes his turn diving and hunting while I man the dinghy and carry Cape on my back. He returns, recovers, and we switch. Ani joins us every other dive. And Cape wears extra protection, in the form of a life vest, when we’re in hunting mode. This way we can completely disengage and have Ani watch him and the dinghy if safety measures progress past supervision. We’re ALL in wetsuits, if even just a top.

When Ren spotted the sizely hogfish my first reaction, which is my default reaction when hunting, was, “Please miss him. Please miss him.” I guess his spear heard me because he fouled the shot. The injured fish retreated into a collection of coral. At this point our intuitive team dynamic kicked in. I immediately swam over to Ren, relieving him of his sling and burdening him with the dinghy and children. I dove to get a visual on the fish but didn’t. Upon my return we continued the ritual pass off. Ren dove. We probably dove a total of two dives each before finally locating the fish again. I sighted the poor fella through a small hole in the rock. My only option, to try for another shot and put the poor guy out of his misery. I hit him but the spear did not stick.

At this point I feel the need to explain that, as it were, our spear was neither sharp nor tuned. Our faulty equipment, due to our own negligence, complicated the hunt but simultaneously provided us with a life lesson opportunity. for those of you out there rolling your eyes in condescension at our whiffs, well, at least I’m being honest. Plus, in this instance, I’m grateful for our irresponsibility.

After my miss Ren and I completed another pass off and Ren dove, finishing the job. I swam to him, dinghy and kids in tow in order to relieve him of his sling and spear so he could dispatch the fish. The knife used for such a task was being dutifully guarded by Ani as she wears it on a rubber belt around her waist. So, in fact, the hunt really was a true act of teamwork perpetuated by three members of the Chapman family but celebrated by four with a healthy dose of “bring it in” and later a prayer of thanks and a hogfish supper.

Although homeschooling is exciting at times, infuriating at others but nonetheless an adventure what’s even better are the moments that are unplanned, unscripted lessons. The kind you don’t learn completely in the traditional classroom or even in the homeschool experience. These, most critical life lessons are ones of survival, passed down to us in our very human nature. Our children learned from us not just a lesson in team work but a life realization that interdependence feeds the family. That two are better than one and that we all work together for the family. I’m excited for the days when Ani and Cape are very much full fledged participants on the playing field. Their contributions are, right now, small but ever important. It will be life giving, empowering to them to grow up feeling genuinely needed as part of Team Chapman.