When it comes to homework in my house, I’m never the 1st choice when one of the girls needed help. I’m the go to guy when the project is due tomorrow kind of Dad…code red….no farting around …break glass and get the thing in the can regardless of how deep the tide of tears has risen… I’m your man.
So, I have to say I was surprised last night (Sunday late) when my daughter Izzy (8th grade) asked if I would read a homework assignment and comment on the content. Well … to be honest I can tell that I wasn’t her first go to guy.
Dad? “Mom wants to know if you would read through my homework assignment and answer some questions”…. Mom wants to know? I asked Ya…… She wanted to know if you would help me with a homework assignment. Do you want me to help? Ya… if you want to…. Sure, let me shut off the NFL Playoff Series game and come up stairs so I can concentrate…
Feeling a little conscripted, I get the low down on what I’m being asked to do and what I’m not…Read the story…. Comment on the content but not the structure. In simple terms this means do not nit-pick the grammar or wordsmith the story, just read it and answer a few questions about the story.
As I began to read the story Izzy asked, Dad do you have to read aloud? Can’t you read it to yourself? Yes I answered…I do!
Don’t know for sure why ….but I just felt like I’d experience the story better by hearing it read with a little feeling. Please go to your room I asked, and let me read and answer the questions. I can concentrate better that way and I’ll call you when I’m done.
As I read the story I couldn’t make out if this was something the teacher wrote or if was written by my daughter. The story sounded vaguely familiar but most summer time stories sound the same to me.
The story drew me in as the author painted word pictures that helped me see and feel what she was experiencing. I began to realize close to the end of the story that she had in fact written this account of her summer experience. I don’t know if it was the artful way the story was crafted or just pure pride that caused me to well up. I looked at my wife and said…this is really good, trying to hide the tears. She responded… I cried too.
Now you have to realize I’m Izzy’s dad and anyone reading this note should expect that with that comes a large measure of built in pride. But I have to say this is a moment that I have had a many times in my life as a father of five girls. That moment when you truly realize that your daughters has developed their gift… a gift so wonderful it can bring a grown man to tears with a few well placed words.
Izzy’s story…………… Enjoy
W is for Water skiing
It hit me like a hundred ice cubes falling on my back. I can barely breathe. I can barely think. At least, not about anything but the bitter pain rushing through my body. Just for a moment I was in shock. I sat in the middle of the white rippling water, and I wait for further instructions. Now, out of shock, I can see a water ski flying up towards the gloomy gray clouds, back down towards my face. As the feeling returns back to my arms, I relax and sink under the water just as the ski is skimming the top of my head. As I pop my head out of the water my eyes come into focus, I see the waterski boat come more clear in my vision.
“That was so great just bend your legs, and straighten your arms a little more this time,” says the boat driver with a friendly smile. Rolling my eyes, I do the doggie paddle over to the lone water ski sitting in the middle of the ripples. Why did I sign up for this? I’m never going to be able to stand up. Anger rushes up through my body, my head getting hot in the cold atmosphere, my hand clenching into a fist. As I put the ski back on my bruised foot, I wish that I was back in my warm cabin, all snuggled in my sweats, and playing cards, and not learning how to water ski.
I grab the rope and pray that I won’t fall over. Again. MMMMMMM. The buzzing of the boat starts up again. I can feel it start to pull me up. I tug, trying to lean back to get control, fighting against the boat where I know I can’t win. I struggle to keep myself up. Slowly and awkwardly gliding against the water, the big boat jerks me forward. I straighten my legs trying to get more upright.
“Bend your legs,” I hear from the boat about 20 feet ahead of me. I can’t stay in this position for long, I try but it’s too difficult. My legs start to spread out farther and farther until I’m almost in a split. Bobbing up and down trying to stay in control, arms swerve into the direction of the wake. My legs and whole body start to turn towards the outer rim of the rippling water. Getting farther away from the white water trail, the boat leaves behind, I feel a drop. My ski drops out of the wake and then my whole body falls outside of the wake. My head plunges underwater and my eyes sting from the pressure. Gasping for air, I see the boat swerving towards me.
“That was so good!” The driver says again.
Still in the awkward position of my legs out and my arms twisted, I am just sitting in the middle of the rippling water feeling the warm water droplets of rain fall onto my face in slow motion. I felt a rush of air from the boat’s propellers, “You get one more try today,” I hear in the distance from the driver.
“Ok,” I reassure her to let her know that I was ok and ready to try again.
The boat slowly circles around me bringing the rainbow rope to my hand. Taking a deep breathe I make an O with my thumb and index finger, and I put the rope in between the hole. watching the colors of the rope pass by me. It was very relaxing to watch, and just for a moment I felt calm and relaxed. When the handle comes by me, I grab it quickly, making sure it doesn’t get away. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
“Ready?” I hear.
“Yep,” I am ready! I can do this just lean back, and do your best to bend your legs.
“Here we go!”
Lean back, bend your legs, and straighten your arms. Lean back, bend your legs, and straighten your arms. You can do this. Lean back, bend your legs, and straighten your arms. Before I know it, I’m gliding on the water, legs bent, arms straightened. I can’t believe it I got up! Everyone on the boat is screaming and calling out my name. I have a grin from ear to ear.
I look around seeing the sight that was like a picture of what you’ve always wanted your dream lake house to be. The wooden oak lake houses, with ski boats parked in the docks, and the green trees as tall as the sky. I see the lights on inside the mammoth lake houses and imagine rich little family’s, piling out of their jeeps, coolers filled with soda, beer, and food to last them through the week.
Coming back to reality I glance back at the driver who is motioning something to me. Her arms are out straight like she was the one water skiing, but then she waved at me. I am supposed to wave back? I wondered.
“Wave, wave!” she said with her hands cupped out over her mouth trying to enunciate her words.
I look down at my hands holding on for dear life and loosen my fingers one by one. She was waving at me again, so with the hand not holding on for dear life, I waved like queen greeting the world. All my fingers cupped together slowly waving back and forth. She did other gestures, waving her arms around in all different ways, so I mirrored her making everyone on the boat smile. It’s the best feeling in the world, I wasn’t going to be the only one who didn’t stand up.
Still smiling I see the small person waving me down on the dock. I throw up the handle, and I sank gently into the water. The feeling of relief and delight rushed through me as I grab the algae covered dock pulling myself up.
“That was so amazing! It took me years to stand up, and you stood up on your 3rd try! Nice job,” said one of the older girls who I pretty much looked up to throughout my whole camp experience.
“Thank you,” I said smiling wide. I grabbed my towel, crocs, and dry clothes. Not looking back, I sprinted off to my cabin to tell everyone what I had just accomplished.
Life Lesson: Don’t give up until you accomplish your goals.