Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Raising a Toast to Abby Sunderland's Parents

Like a lot of folks, I've been following the story of Abby Sunderland, the 16-yr-old from Thousand Oaks, California, who set out this year to be the youngest person to sail around the world solo. If you've been following Abby's journey, you know that she ran into trouble in the past week and her beloved boat, Wild Eyes, was lost. Abby was rescued, is safe, and on her way home. YAY!

I first remember reading about Abby when she started her journey. Since then, every now and then, I'd check in on her website or blog and see what she was up to. I also remember months ago thinking how could her parents allow a 16 yr old girl to travel the world alone on a small boat. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't judge or condemn them for it. In fact, I applaud them. I just didn't understand how they could let her go knowing any number of things might befall her.

I don't have children and I don't pretend to know what parents go through when sending their children out into the world, whether it be on a sailboat or to college. But I am keenly aware of all the horrible things that can happen to young people as they step out on their own. One need only think of Joran Van der Sloot to get cold shivers.

But this I do know:

It takes real guts, knowing the evils that lurk in the world, to let children go. To let them be themselves and pursue their dreams, even if their dreams take them around the world, alone, on a 40-ft water craft. Only in being allowed to spread their wings can young people become the people they are meant to be and fulfill their dreams and goals. It's a fact that dreams need wings to fly.

So here's to you, Abby. You may not have completed your journey, but you have touched my heart with your courage, and I know this is not the last we'll hear of you. Go grab the world by the tail, dear. You deserve it.

And here's to you, Abby's parents, and to your nerves of steel and selflessness in letting your little girl take flight.


Lynne_in_CA said...

Well I've already launched one child successfully (not as a sailor LOL) so why do I feel moments of terror as I prepare to show my 14-year-old how to ride a city bus 12 miles to school?

Abby Wong said...

I agree, Sue Ann! I'm curious to know what you think of the rumors floating around the internet that her parents are now shopping around a reality show about their family. I don't want to think that everything that recently happened is a big publicity stunt, but the cynic in me (and the wife of the person whose job is being destroyed by reality TV) can't help but wonder. :-/

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Here's what her mother posted on Abby's blog either yesterday or today about the reality show rumors:


Laurence and I were approached by Magnetic Entertainment last year before Abby departed to shop a reality TV show based on our family. Abby's trip was already sponsored. Their idea was to do an inspiring show about Zac and Abby’s adventures, what our family was like and what made them as strong and independent as they are. The show was shopped and not sold. All rights were returned to us. There is no reality TV show or documentary in the works and we will not be persuing one. We find it ironic that the media, who are spreading gossip and sensationalizing Abby’s story for profit, have the nerve to criticize us for supposedly doing the same thing – very ironic."

Abby Wong said...

Hmmm. "Shopped and not sold"- it sounds like they would have been ok with doing the reality show, if only a network decided to produce it. I'm glad they aren't pursuing it now (which would only look opportunistic). I don't really have a problem with anything the family is doing with regard to sailing of childrearing because it's private and up to them and every family is different. But if they ever opt to do a reality show, I think it is natural for people to become suspicious about the "real" reasons the parents are encouraging their kids to explore the world. Hell, ANY reality show makes me suspicious about its participants.

Cynthia Rielley said...

Ok as an overprotective mother of three part of me has the knee jerk reaction of these people are crazy they shouldn't be allowed to raise children. Then I start thinking about why we are raising children, I mean what is the ultimate goal? My personal goal is to have raised happy, healthy intelligent adults who are passionate about something and able to be successfully independent in this world. Hmmmm when one puts it that way, it is not as though they bought her a boat last month and said, bye have fun come back if you can figure out how. I could never do it but I admire their ability to let go and trust what they have taught