They say that life crawled out of the ocean, and that our blood reflects the salinity of those ancient seas. They say that we float for 40 weeks in our mother’s womb in fluid much like our ancestors floated in before they had legs, arms, or lungs.

I don’t know.

I do know that the ocean brings me a sense of peace that is difficult to obtain elsewhere. I sleep more peacefully and more restfully when I can hear surf crashing, and smell the salt breeze. I grew up on a salt water sound, and the smell of tide flats or the screech of a seagull can send me home in an instant.

Tomorrow we are going on vacation for a week. We have rented a house on the Oregon coast, and I am hoping to take the opportunity to refresh, recharge, and rejuvenate. I am bringing a stack of science fiction, my GPS receiver, and my wading shoes. I know we will be keeping busy, and trying to hit some of the local attractions, but I sincerely hope that we budget time to sleep late, walk the beach at sunset, and lay around.

This vacation is perhaps particularly timely. As I have written here previously, we’ve had some difficulties with our children lately. Two days ago, we had yet another incident with them. I won’t go into details, (partially because I really don’t want this to become a parenting blog) but once again boundaries were crossed and warnings were ignored. Notably, this time someone else’s child was placed in some small jeopardy–an adorable 3 year old that loves my kids and spends a lot of time with them. It was, as they say, the last straw. They burned their last bridge.

When I look at the boundaries we have set for them, I honestly don’t feel that we have been particularly permissive. In fact, I had always thought of myself as fairly strict. No, I don’t think we have been too lax, I just think that we have been too permissive for my daughter. All children are different, and she in particular seems to need sharp boundaries and a firm rein.

My wife and I both feel that some undefined boundary has been crossed, that they have taken their behavior beyond some threshold. That we have to assert our parental control now, definitively, as the cost of doing so later would be prohibitive. So, our children are in the equivalent of lock-down, and they will be getting no breaks from us anytime soon. We have agreed that we need to impose a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy. Much like the philosophy that you can decrease homocide rates by cracking down on graffiti, we hope to improve overall behavior by not tolerating any small incidents of disrespect or disobediance. Our daughter is only nine, she will not be allowed to argue with us, make smart comments, or even roll her eyes in our direction. Not anymore. Not for a while. After all, we are not here to be her best friends, we are here to parent, to try to make her the best person that we possibly can.

It will be hard. I think the reason the kids have gotten into the habit of having the freedom that they’ve had, is because it’s far easier to say “don’t get into trouble” as they head outside than it is to actually go outside with them and keep an eye on them. Permissiveness is easy. Discipline is hard.

So we enter yet another phase of parenthood, that of donning big black hats and being the bad guys. It promises to be a bumpy transition, one that I fervently hope will be eased by being at the seashore, hearing the cries of gulls and cormorants, and being lulled to sleep by the gentle crash of waves onto the sands. But whether it is eased or not, it is a change that must occur. And no one ever said it would be easy.