This is a guest post by Lynn Whittaker
I have always been a people watcher. I’ve always loved going to the mall sitting and just watching people. Where do they come from? What are they shopping for? Then there are those that my husband and I feel lack “situational awareness.” When you walk into the grocery store and someone goes in before you and grabs a cart and stands there looking over the entire store as you patiently await their decision. Will it be aisle 2 cereals or will they hit the produce section. Usually when they select the produce section, I do whatever I can to pass them and get around them. Otherwise I would be spending my time following the lost souls.
Recently my husband and I took a cruise with our children, ages 18 months and 3 years old. This was our seventh cruise so we are not by any means newbies, but this was our first experience with children. The packing involved was indeed daunting. Were there enough outfits, diapers, sippy cups, entertainment items, etc.? We did our best and set off to NY with another couple we have cruised with in the past. Upon boarding the Carnival Splendor, my oldest at age 3, wanted to know when we were going to get on the “big boat.” He didn’t even know we had been on the ship for several minutes already. I can only wonder what his thoughts and feelings were experiencing his first of many cruises to come.
My biggest concern of traveling with our children was that we could potentially lose them. We brought strollers as well a harness for the youngest, who loves to run when given the chance. She loved to run down the hallway to our cabin and it was our nightly highlight. We would watch her running so carefree and stopping every once in a while to peek in on a cabin steward preparing a room. That was the only time we’d let her be “free.” My husband and I became increasingly aware of what we called “situational awareness” with the people on the ship. There were those that were ever so kind to step off an elevator to allow us on with stroller and children in tow and then to get back into the elevator. There were also those that, when on the elevator no matter what you did or how you approached, they stood their ground, unwilling to move, right dead center of the elevator. We found this to be evident on all elevators on the ship, which at times became increasingly frustrating. We also found this to be true on several decks of the ship but mainly the lido deck, where the hub of activity took place. The buffet, the pool, dancing contests, etc. It was the best spot for people watching and numerous times I found myself drifting and seeking out people who hadn’t a clue as to what they were doing. Wandering around with a tray, no food on it, and no clue as to how to go about filling such trays. There were those entering the buffet that required shirts and shoes, that obviously didn’t pay attention to the signs posted on the doors as well as inside the restaurant. We watched the people approach the hand sanitizer stations, not knowing how they worked and just passed them by. I looked down at my two children with a bit of fear because of those people, but also with self confidence knowing we knew how to use the sanitizers and also how get into the lines to get food.
While on a beach excursion I watched a couple who had misplaced their child who was about 3. They were running back and forth on the beach, screaming the child’s name. I began searching the crowd of nearly three thousand, but for what I don’t know. I had no idea what this child looked like, but I felt the panic, the fear, the tearing of my heart, thinking about my own child getting lost. Fortunately, they located their son and I am sure he got a lecture about wandering off. We made sure that our son had a swimmy on that was NEON yellow with flames, an easily visible suit and he was never left without an adult. While this had been going on, I sat freaking out for the other couple, but looked into the water as my son and his daddy played in the ocean, making the very best out of their beach day.
I am not sure if it’s just me or what but I feel that many people live their lives being completely oblivious. I don’t know how they survive, but they do make it difficult for the rest of us who are aware of their surroundings. If you don’t know where you’re going, step aside to let those that do get by you. If you don’t know how to use the sanitizers, watch someone use it, or ask someone as there is usually someone there to show you. Make yourself aware of your surroundings. In the long run you’ll have a better time and make things far more enjoyable for those that already are aware. Prepare your children, no matter the age. Mark their clothing, toys, bathing suits, and anything else they own with their name and address. Yes I might be a bit “overboard,” but I was at least able to relax knowing I did everything to protect the safety of our children and we were able to have a wonderful cruise.