It was inevitable I think: having kids who live on a boat must automatically mean that pirate gear comes along too. Truthfully, the simple fact that we have girls means that our pirate paraphernalia is fairly limited. But I’ve been surprised a number of times at the bounty of pink pirate adornments out there. And of course whenever I come across a rose-colored skull-and-bones it comes home with me each and every time. There’s just something adorable, slightly sassy, about a 2-year-old in a pink pirate bib, no?
“Mom, what’s a pirate?” Leah asked me one day after we had just finished reading one of our favorite pirate tales.
That one was a toughie, actually. Do I go with the Wikipedia definition, that “piracy is a war-like act committed by private parties (not affiliated with any government) that engage in acts of robbery and/or criminal violence at sea?” Or do I go with the version more preferred by children, that pirates bury their treasure chests on deserted islands or hide it in drippy caves, leaving mysterious maps behind for treasure-hunters to decipher?
Not wanting to add to the nightmares of my 5-year-old’s extremely active imagination, I went with the fully G-rated version. Nothing wrong with a little pirate fun, right? It’s everywhere, after all. We have pirate books (friendly ones, of course), socks, bibs, cat collars. We even have a copy of Dora’s Pirate Adventure on board.
My girls are perfectly happy with Jolly Old Pirates. Myself, however, hasn’t always been so sure. I mean, I think I know where Leah gets her active imagination from. I can’t help but picture David Shannon’s sneering cartoon pirates doing what they really do: attacking ships, killing the crew and taking the spoils. I welcomed our friendly childhood pirates onboard, but with my conscience a little irritated, wondering if it’s right to make such terrible criminals, well, cute.
And then the worst real-life thing happened: two weeks ago Real Pirates took four Americans hostage on their yacht off Somalia, hoping for the millions in ransom those in the West are naturally willing to pay for the return of their families and friends. When Navy forces tried to rescue the hostages, all four Americans were killed by the ruthless thugs. Even worse, not a week later, Pirates took a Danish cruising family hostage, including their three teenaged children.
I cannot stop thinking of these children, the terror they must be feeling at this very moment is unfathomable to me. Held captive by brutal thugs who will not think twice about shooting them and their parents dead if it means avoiding their own capture. Or if the payment doesn’t come.
It’s made me think long and hard about adorning my own precious children with the symbols of piracy.
Pirates are not the stuff of cutesy fairy tales. They are not swashbuckling heroes, only out to steal the fair maiden’s heart. Pirates still exist, they are real and they are terrifying, murderous criminals.
They are walking our plank, for good.