Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On being a parent and being an idiot...

I wish I could take it back. I wish I could read a little boy's mind like I've been saying I can. Last night I felt about 2" tall.

Mack is ready to learn to roll his kayak. I think I am ready. Carol and I got him a new kayak for Christmas and he's been excited about being a "real kayaker" and learning to roll ever since. I took him to a local pool with his new boat a couple of weeks ago and he loved it. We did some drills, he learned how to put on a skirt, and he repeatedly demonstrated that he could pull the skirt and escape his boat if he flipped over. I beamed with pride as he paddled around the pool showing comfort and good boat control.

I've taught many to roll a kayak, but teaching Mack to roll... well, it just seemed like an invitation to disaster for the Dad and Son to work on something so technical. Of all the things I can give him, a peaceful interest is paramount. I’d love it if he were to love whitewater as I do. The last thing I want to do is to have him associate whitewater with conflict with his father. I thought I'd seek professional help. I talked to Liquid Adventures and they were great. Mack is a little too young for their Juniors class but they would find him a private instructor. I got an email yesterday that they suggested Ashley Nee, the 2010 Women's National Champion and strong contender for the Olympics. Wow! He's a lucky kid.

I talked to Carol and we're all excited. This is great, it's a bit expensive, but for something so critical and for a lifelong skill it was manageable. We called Mack in to tell him and show him the school and Ms. Nee on the Internet.

Dad: "Mack, here's your new kayaking instructor. She's great, the 2010 Women's Champion and hopefully we'll get to watch her in the Olympics this Summer! Isn't that great?"

Mack: (with obvious disappointment) "Yeah, OK. Can I go back to what I was doing?"

Dad: "Aren't you excited? Look at these photos of her running some hard water....

Mack: (silence)...

Dad: "Aren't you excited? Look at this photos of her running a waterfall. See the kids in the school? ...

Mack: (silence)

Dad: (sternly) Are you that spoiled? This is expensive and most kids would die for a chance like this."

Mack: (silence)...

Dad: "You don't have anything to say?"

Mack: (silence, his head is dropped) ... .... ...

Dad: (after a long period of silence) "Ok, you little ungrateful bastard, go on back to your video game or whatever, I just can't believe that you're that spoiled. Maybe you shouldn't even have lessons."

Mack: (in tears, runs into the other room.)

Mom: "Let me see what's going on." (Carol follows Mack into the other room.)

Mom: (coming back to see me.) "You owe him an apology."

Dad: "For what? We've spoiled him rotten. He's not satisfied with the best? I don't know what else to do for him."

Mom: "You want to know what he said?"

Dad: "I hope he has a story."

Mom: "I asked him if he wasn't excited about learning to roll? Mack replied, "Oh yes, Momma, I really want to be a good kayaker. I know that learning to roll is really important." So I said, “what's wrong?” Mack said, "I thought Daddy was going to teach me.""