Wednesday, August 10, 2016
My 10 year old said he would be totally fine with staying at his cousin’s house for “a week - well maybe four days, but maybe a week, too.”
“Won’t you miss mom and dad?” I asked, baiting what I thought was a surefire means to hooking the answer his mother wanted to hear.
He just gave me a coy grin and shrugged his shoulders.
What happened to the little boy who would cry if we didn’t turn off a movie when the credits started rolling? Where’s the wee lad who nearly pissed himself and sobbed, snot running down his face sitting passenger side in a go-kart at Oaks Park Amusement? What happened to my little Oochie Boochie Man? (Yeah, a weird term of endearment I made up when he was an infant.)
Growing up, that’s what happened.
It’s a well-trodden path to wax poetic in melancholic voice about children growing up. In my 20s and even into my early 30s I didn’t seem to notice that friend’s and family member’s kids got older, went to high school, and moved on into the world.
I think the first time it struck me was when I learned that a guy I worked with at a pizza place in high school had died: Dave. Dave was probably in his late 30’s when I knew him. He had a young daughter, maybe 6 or 7 when I was in high school. Dave died when I was in my late 20s - a good 10 years after I left the pizza place. Dave was a remote relation - married to my dad’s ex-wife’s ex-sister-in-law. (Should I even call that a “relation”? Maybe I should have stuck to “a guy I knew.”)
When my dad told me Dave had died my first reaction was something akin to “oh man - his poor little girl.” My dad snickered a bit. “She’s 17 or 18 by now you know.”
Wow. Yeah, that’s right. Here I had framed this little girl in my memory as a 1st or 2nd grader, and in all likelihood she was about to graduate high school. That likely didn’t make it any less traumatic for her, losing her father. Besides the point, really, it was perhaps the first time I realized that sometimes we develop memories of particular people in a vacuum. Especially kids.
Yet here I am. Past the 40 mark. My oldest just turned 10; my youngest 7. I’ve had a kid for a decade… a decade. Of course even decades don’t mean as much anymore. I think of the span from 1980 to 1990 and, of course as a kid that was a lifetime. Today I think about 2000 and the whole Y2K thing as some fairly recent event - people getting riled up for what ended up being a total bust. Okay so that was 16, almost 17 years ago. Kids conceived that New Year’s Eve have probably taken my order at Subway or cut me off out on highway 99W in the last 6 months. Yet it feels like Y2k and 9/11 happened, you know, just a few years ago. How long will I mentally calculate (with incredulity) how old I was when a millenial co-worker mentions what year they were born? Will I just resign myself at some point to “being old”?
Yet to circle back around, I look at my kids and think, how in the hell did this happen? How did my first born, my baby boy, the most beautiful thing that ever came onto this earth turn into this ball-scratching, armpit hair-sprouting, fart-joke telling, lanky kid that is “totally okay” with going to his cousin’s house for a week? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???
I’ve got no regrets. I feel like I really listened and took heed when friends and family told me to “enjoy it; it goes by fast” in regards to kids growing up. Well, I have enjoyed it. Watching his first steps. Looking on in bemusement as he yelled “Swiper no swiping!” at the nurse who was drawing blood from his newborn-brother’s heel. That first successful bike ride and subsequent crash that took 4 inches of skin off his shin.
No longer my pig-nosed Oochie Boochie Man, that nose took on a more human shape thankfully and now it’s buried in an Ipod, seeing how many likes he has on Musically or playing with Snapchat filters. He’d rather watch YouTube videos about Minecraft than snuggle up on the couch with his family for movie night (although I still force him too). He’s growing up, and it hurts my heart to think in less than 10 years he could be out of this house - off making his way in the world on some grand adventure or sitting in a college class or taking his lumps in boot camp or (God I hope not) watching YouTube videos about Minecraft in my basement.
None of it sounds good, no matter the inevitability. One day you pick up your child for the last time. You clean up a skinned knee for the last time; you wipe away a tear for the last time. But you’ll never know that was it.
It’s ironic, really, that your success as a parent is basically measured by getting your kids to leave you, to be brave, to go out in the world and find their own way. It’s kind of a cruel jape that all the love, attention and devotion that you bestow upon your children is really intended to give them the ability to walk out that door someday and become a well-adjusted adult all their own, no longer in need of mommy and daddy.
If you’ll excuse me now, it seems I’ve got something stuck in my eye.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Not bumper stickers, hyperbolic rants, nor memes are going to make someone see things your way. You’re never going to change anyone’s mind with aggressive, provocative diatribes that equate to poking them in the chest saying “you’re wrong and you’re stupid and you should think like me!”
And if you did happen to change someone’s mind through the aforementioned methods... they are stupid and you wouldn’t want them on your side, anyways.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Monday, 7:30 a.m.
I’m tired, probably feeling a wee bit of the after-effects (not gonna call it a hangover) of drinking too much over the weekend (again.) I surfed Saturday though. Still riding a bit of that stoke. I can still feel that second-to-last wave that really got my juices flowing. I replay it in my head over and over and over. I should have pulled a harder cut back though- screw my back.
I also should have gone for that wave that looked like it had just a bit too much vert on the face. It didn't even close out! Don’t be such a wuss next time!
I’m checking the forecasts for later in the week. Too early to know for sure what it’s going to really be like.
Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.
Ahhhhhh it’s only freaking Tuesday! I’ve spent way too much time on Surfline today. The stoke is pretty much worn off. Friday is looking good I think. Why am I on Craigslist looking at surfboards again? I just bought yet another board that will have to be hidden in my garage until who-knows-when.
Wednesday, 10:45 a.m.
Dammit, dammit dammit! Perfect conditions at the Cove! Dammit! I could skip out of work early, make the 1.375 hour drive to the coast and get a solid hour+ of surf in before it’s pitch black out. Dammit! Kid has soccer practice tonight though! Dammit!
Thursday, 2:15 p.m.
Okay, Friday is looking okay, and it’s my regular rotating Friday off. Cove looks good, Shorties looks fair. Okay, on the road by 6:30, in the water by 8:15. But wait, crap, surf-forecast.com is showing a short period swell now and wind out of the north. What the hell?!? Swellinfo is showing all green and wind out of the east. Mixed swell? Dammit! Should I make the drive? Dammit!! I hate these stupid forecast sites!
Friday, 4:45 a.m.
Too dark to see anything on the webcam at the Cove. No matter. I bet everything is blown out. Wind switched onshore. I hate you all.
Friday , 6:30 a.m.
Okay- I can kinda see something on the webcam. Looks like crap at the Cove but maybe Shorties is okay? My surf buddy is texting: “what do you think?”
Friday, 6:35 a.m.
Friday, 8:15 a.m.
Surf buddy text: “Let’s go to P.C. It looks clean!” Too late. Wife is awake and I’m put on lockdown for household assignments. Dammit!! But wait… Saturday is looking good.
Saturday, 6:00 a.m.
Loading the truck, caffeine flowing, double-checking gear (yeah I should go ahead and bring 3 leashes… you never know.) Do I pack the 8’4” just in case? It’s supposed to be 5-7’ but the tide is high. No, because then I’ll have to leave it in the back of the truck if I don’t use it. Okay- 7’3” speed egg then. No, wait, maybe the 7’8”. Should I try the 6’4”? I’m getting too fat to ride that thing anymore. Dammit! I need to roll.
Saturday, 6:04 a.m.
I’m on the road- I’ll be in the water by 7:45 at the latest. Metallica!!
Saturday, 6:08 a.m.
Dammit!!! I left my booties in the garage!
Saturday, 6:10 a.m.
Okay- no worries, back on the road, cranking Queens of the Stone Age! Yes!
I get ready to merge onto highway 217. Yeah gas station guy- that is a surfboard sticking out the back of my truck! Don’t be all jealous! In the water no later than 8:00!
Saturday, 7:45 a.m.
Well, the Cove looks decent. Yup, screw it. Not going anywhere else. But damn, that wind is picking up a bit…
Saturday, 11:50 a.m.
I scramble over the rocks back to my truck. I need to have a serious conversation with my wife about moving to the coast. I could telecommute. I’m sure my boss would be cool with that. I wonder what time my wife works tomorrow? I could leave super early and be back home by 10:00. Ooooohhhhh look! That house has a for sale sign on it! I wonder if any new boards are on the shelf at Seaside surf? Maybe I’ll swing in and browse a bit.
Saturday, 1:15 p.m.
Text from wife: “Where R U!?”
Sunday, 12:30 a.m.
(Sipping a beer I don’t really need) I wonder what kind of jobs they have for Americans in Nicaragua?
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Monday, November 25, 2013
So there was a shark attack last week not too far from where I surf. The guy got away without any injuries though—the big lug just gave his board a little taste-test. I’m sure there’s a wetsuit that got a thorough cleaning this weekend, and for the record, the guy was an out-of-towner. Maybe it was a local shark just keeping the line-up in order.
All joking aside, it keeps you on alert the next time you paddle out after hearing about this sort of thing. That odd swooshing of water a few yards off or the shadow that may or may not have just passed under your board...? You can’t let your imagination run wild but occasionally it does. The worst (or best?) part of it is there isn’t going to be any of that cinematic fin-rushing-up-from-afar crap if a great white does decide to go after you. I’m sure most surfers that have been attacked never even saw it coming. Great whites attack from underneath and it’s usually a case of mistaken identity. Of course that’s no consolation if Jaws takes a bite out of your thigh.
Seals and sea lions are usually on the menu, and incidentally, there’s a seal that frequents my regular break. Whenever I see the doe-eyed little guy it immediately gets my hackles up, especially when he’s closer to the beach than I am: it’s like, does he know something I don’t?
I honestly don’t believe surfing is inherently dangerous. I mean, of course there’s risk involved, but like any sport (and I hate to call surfing a sport) there is definitely a potential for injury. Yet most competent surfers know if conditions are beyond their ability. Sure, accidents happen, but by the numbers, the sheer amount of surfers in the water around the world at any given time compared to the amount of drowning reported, shark attacks, and other potentially-fatal incidents associated with the activity are relatively low.
And I actually read somewhere that more people get attacked by cows each year than by sharks.
Of course it’s probably a bit more frightening to have Jaws barreling up underneath you than Lulu the cow giving you a swift kick to the backside. Or whatever it is a cow does when it attacks.
At the end of the day, even though the linked incident took place just miles down the coast from where I usually surf, it won’t keep me from the water. I may pay a bit closer attention to that seal though. If he’s paddling in, I might think about doing the same.