Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

That’s My Daughter’s Leg in the Water

by | May 9, 2024 | Parenting | 0 comments

The underwater summersaults of parenting

Sharing a coconut with my daughter at the Kukui Ula farmer’s market. Poipu, Kauai.

I was genuinely grateful I still had time to hit the brakes and not run over his beautiful family of three. That would’ve ruined both of our vacations. What frustrated me was that he was carrying his baby as he jaywalked in my right of way without even looking.

When he was done walking out of my lane, and without looking at me, he just flickered two of his fingers up in the air as if he was calling for bottle service.

Maybe he has read the same psychology research I have read on parenting. Perhaps he read that a tough upbringing creates resilience in kids. What can be tougher than surviving a car crash? Well, I guess there are tougher things but that seems a really crummy one.

Sometimes, I wonder if I should drop my kids on the ground and give them a swift kick in the head. Then I’d bend at the waist and tell them, “I’m only doing this for you. A tough childhood will motivate you to accomplish great things in life.”

I’m not sure if I’m down for the trade-off. I would deprive the world of my daughter’s potential world-class accomplishments if I could gift her a little happiness.

I want to provide them with the stability that makes a career in accounting exhilarating.

Part of providing that stability is to keep learning about parenting.

Parenting to me means getting over my bullshit, so I don’t transfer it to my daughters. Like not wanting to get on the beach in Poipu because there were too many people. Like getting over my unearned bourgeois desire to have the beach just to myself and just jump in the water with my daughter like the peasant I am.

The first time I took my daughter to Kauai, I saw her tread and swallow water with glee. I witnessed her blissfully ignoring the dangers of the ocean, either because of the unlimited confidence of her childhood or because she knew I was there.

To get over the bullshit, I have to do a lot of work to figure out what parenting baggage I inherited from my parents. I know it is there, and it spans a range of categories.

For water-related activities, I have inherited my mom’s aquatic canons like “You cannot go in the water for exactly 60 minutes right after having lunch,” or “You don’t want to tempt the ocean, swim in the shallow,” and “You can only go to water events (whether a pool or a beach) if one of your parents is present.”

The last one my mom enforced tirelessly. I never went to the beach if my mom or dad were not there.

What better way to get comfortable with shedding some of those antiquated beliefs than by including grandparents in the definition of parental supervision? That’s what I did that time I was in Kauai.

We were hanging out at the beach with my daughter, my wife, and her parents when a stranger approached us and asked us if we wanted a boogie board. We accepted it even though I didn’t want to. It was the beginning of the pandemic, and touching something someone else touched was as dangerous as base jumping. You know, delta variant and all.

But we took it.

To my surprise, my two-year-old daughter already knew it was called a “boogie board,” and she asked her grandparents to take her to the ocean to use it.

My in-laws would do anything for my daughter. They love her, and she loves them. So they obliged. They walked her down to the water and got to work on balancing her on the board.

Pulling my camera out to capture the cuteness.

It was interesting to see her balance on the board. She was a great walker for a two-year-old, but she still spent 70% of her walking time on her tippy-toes. So, I would describe her balance as somewhat rocky.

Balancing a two-year-old on a boogie board is a two-person job.

As they were balancing my daughter on the board, my father-in-law must have heard an inner voice that said, “Now, push her!”

So, he did.

And there it was.

My two-year-old, who can barely walk with a solid C+ strut, was thrown ahead expected to balance herself on a board even though she doesn’t even know how to swim.

What happened shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it was still shocking to see. My daughter did two underwater summersaults before she was rescued by her assailants.

Notice my daughter’s leg mid-double-underwater summersault.

Notice my daughter’s leg mid-double-underwater summersault.

I kept muttering under my breath to my wife, “In what world?” “In what world?” “In what world?”

From our beach chairs, we could see her being rescued by my mother-in-law, and after knowing she was safe, I turned to my wife and said, “ I thought they were going boogie boarding, not water-boarding.”

“Well, having a water baby was nice while it lasted. We will try again with the next one.”

Grammie pretending she wasn’t part of the heist.

The other part of parenting I’m working on is not reacting to events that happen to my daughters so they can make up their minds about them.

It is one of the hardest things to do because I am suppressing the infinite pit in my stomach that opens up to swallow me whole when something slightly negative happens to my kids.

And this wasn’t ‘slightly negative.’ This was negative.

As expected, my daughter found our gaze and with a look that said, “What the fuck were you thinking letting me boogie-board with these people?”

She inspected our reactions.

We gave her nothing, and with that, she quickly got over the fact that her grandparents had conspired to drown her.

They should make a warning sign for when grandparents are teaching boogie boarding. Poipu, Kauai.

They should make a warning sign for when grandparents are teaching boogie boarding. Poipu, Kauai.

When we finally packed up to leave, my daughter put the boogie board under her arm, something we never showed her how to do, but she had seen people doing it all week. And she just walked off ahead of us.

The most important lesson about parenting I like to remind myself is that kids are more resilient than we give them credit for.

My daughter getting back on the waves. Poipu, Kauai.

Maybe not resilient enough to survive being run over by an SUV when their bones have not fully fused yet.

But resilient enough to survive an attempted drowning by their grandparents and still go back to the ocean the next day with their boogie board in tow behind them.

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