By: Mary Fran Bontempo

To hear an audio version of this post, click the play arrow below.

white sails and blue skies“Tell me something–are you stupid?”

“Stupid is as stupid does, sir.”

Forrest Gump might not have been a “smart man,” but he knew stupid. Forrest knew that stupid, despite all outward appearances of mental competence, was clearly visible in actions. And despite all of his supposed mental shortcomings, Forrest was rarely stupid.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, the parents who set off to sail around the world along with their one and three-year-old children on a 36 foot sailboat, becoming stranded 900 miles off the coast of Mexico last week.

Yes, you read that right. Two kids, ages one and three, on a 36 foot sailboat. Sailing around the world with their parents.

There are no tests to pass before one can become a parent. Biology allows that anyone who knows what goes where and completes the act under the right circumstances can become a parent, sometimes unfortunately for the resulting offspring.

I became a parent for the first time just before my 26th birthday. My son turns 29 today (Happy Birthday, David!), and I’m still not sure of what I’m doing.

But I do know this: under no circumstances would I have taken a one and three year old on a sailboat into the ocean. Not for a short sail, not for a three hour tour (Gilligan’s Island, anyone?), not while in full view of land, not nohow, not noway, not ever.

As far as I was concerned, there were enough dangers lurking in our own home, what with electrical outlets, stairs, bathtubs, heck, even a mouthful of Cheerios, to keep me on full alert, moments away from a nervous breakdown, for fear something would happen to my kids. Willingly put them in a sailboat in the ocean? Um…no.

I realize that I was often overly cautious. Okay, ridiculously paranoid. But still, what in the world were these two thinking? I mean, they weren’t refugees escaping from a totalitarian government. This was no necessary trip to freedom, to a better life. This was fun. Until it wasn’t, that is. Until the boat lost power and baby Lyra, dependent on her apparently intellectually challenged parents, got sick. So sick that a California Air National Guard crew had to parachute down to the stricken vessel, stabilize the child and wait until a United States Naval warship arrived to lift Lyra, her sister, and their parents, to safety.

In defense of their actions, the parents want the world to know that “this is how our family has lived for seven years,” and they “remain today confident that we prepared as well as any sailing crew could.” Yeah, except for the fact that you didn’t have kids seven years ago, and as anyone who takes on the ocean knows, there’s not enough preparation in the world for the one rouge wave that could capsize your boat, taking you and those innocent babies with you.

Personally, I think the Navy should have taken the kids and left the parents. And now that the Navy has the kids, I’m not sure they should give them back.

Sure, life is never a given, and accidents happen. But any parents who take their defenseless children and willingly put them at risk in such a dramatic, unnecessary way, are just stupid.

I think even Forrest Gump would agree with that.

What do you think of the Kaufman’s adventures? Click “comments” below and share–and check out Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, below.