Little T's First -- 5/2/97

Saturday was family day, so we decided to have a picnic with a few of our friends. We settled on Barber's Point, a small park on base with good facilities and small waves for the keikis (children).

When we arrived, I was surprised to find a bit of surf. It was only waist-to-chest high, but it was looking nice. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to partake--too busy catching sand crabs with the kids.

Our daughter, Taryn (nicknamed Little T), loves playing in water. At 20 months, she's the joy of our lives, and never ceases to amaze us. (A bit of fatherly pride--Whenever she sees anyone riding a wave on tv, she immediately shouts, "Dada, Dada!") We've never taken her to the beach with waves, so this was our first opportunity to introduce her to real "surfing."

I plopped her on my bodyboard (Chocolate-T, named after her), sat her bolt upright, and ventured in. The shorebreak was lapping in at thigh-high level, head-high for my little one. She gamely absorbed the waves as I got her accustomed to the feel of the swells.

I chose a wave to "ride" in on, a soft swell that slipped rather than broke onto the shore. I pushed the board in and guided it, staying alongside the rails. We ended up halfway up the beach, stuck in the sand from the receding water. We did that only a couple of times before Mommy called us in for lunch.

I don't know if Taryn enjoyed riding the waves, but she didn't complain. I think she was unsure of the situation and was trying to get a feel for it. In any case, I can't wait to teach her how to swim so we can bodyboard tandem, with Mommy's OK, of course.

This episode got me thinking about a few things that my wife and I talked about a while back.

Once, my wife asked whether I would want Taryn to be a surfer. Sure, I'd like her to understand, appreciate and even participate in the sport I love, but this may be a self-serving need of trying to mold her in my image.

Objectively speaking, surfing is a passion that many times clashes with responsibilities. From a parent's point of view, the situation would be touchy, to say the least, especially since I'm still actively involved in the sport. Hopefully, this could be used as an opportunity to learn how to prioritize her life.

Another question posed by my wife, was whether I would allow Taryn to date a surfer (when she came of age, of course). Again, I'm not too sure I'd be comfortable seeing her in tow in a surfmobile. Surfers have been stereotyped as being laid-back, with a lack of responsibility (there's that r-word again), and a lot of them are. Would I entrust my daughter with someone like that? I think not! Of course, there are exceptions (take me, for example :-) ). I guess I still have a few years to weigh out this one.

Once, when we were talking about the good old days, my wifey half-jokingly said that when they were in high school they used to check out guys with surf racks on their cars, because that meant that they were surfers and that they probably had nice bodies. I cracked up at this, but then wondered if my little one would think the same way. I better teach her that bodyboarders, who don't use surf racks, have nicer bodies. :-)

We have a lifetime ahead of us to guide this little ball of energy into the future. Will surfing be an intimate part of her life? Only time will tell. One thing's for sure, she'll know that it's an important part of mine.

Aloha from Paradise,