The Ski Lift

When I was growing up, my best friend lived right across the street from me.  We did everything together from the time she rolled out of bed at noon until our parents made us come home at sunset.  We had a ton of freedom to do basically whatever we fancied.  We rode bikes all over town and in the woods, played Barbies on the front lawn, and basically hid from all of the other younger kids on our block.  So many of my childhood memories involve her… including the first time I went snow skiing.

Her parents owned a local ski shop and she and her younger brother began skiing when they were babies.  They went skiing all of the time.  I think the first time I went with them I was about nine years old.  I suited up and hit the slopes.  No matter that she took me to a (double?) diamond on my very first run.  Fortunately, I was a kid and made of rubber and I totally dug the speed from racing down a mountain, all tuck-and-go.  In my head-to-toe matching yellow hat, pants, bibs combo, I effortlessly earned the nickname “Runaway Banana.”

My family soon got in on the skiing vacations as well.  Actually, it seemed like our whole town did.  And we skied A LOT.  We took tons of day trips to local areas that were fun, but my favorite ski vacations were the ones where we got to ski day after day after day.  They even instituted a week off of school in February, called it “Winter Vacation” and most everybody traveled north.  We went a few times a year to Pico Mountain in Killington, Vermont, to swoosh down Charlie’s Highway, the Lower and Upper Pikes, Bushwacker, Forty-Niner, Upper and Lower Giant Killers, and even A and B slopes when they were occasionally open.

And, again, our parents gave us the freedom to ski wherever we wanted, together as kids.  But instead of meeting back home when the sun went down, we just met them at the Lodge for happy hour after the lifts closed.

Now, Pico Mountain is not a ginormous ski resort.  It was also the 1980’s and kids could still do the unaccompanied roaming thing without much worry.  It also didn’t hurt that most every person on the mountain also came from my hometown, so we all kind of knew each other up there.  Nevertheless, even when we were “on our own,” we would occasionally run into a parent here and there.

I have learned as a parent myself that there are many taboo topics that other parents don’t necessarily tell you all about, mainly because they are so horrible that you just might opt out of the whole parenthood gig if you were forewarned of their atrociousness (things like the unimaginable quantities of poop, puke, lack of sleep, all-consuming fear of total responsibility for the life of another human being… and those are just a few that jump to mind regarding babies).  But there are also upsides to parenthood that you might not necessarily consider either.  One of those is certainly the joy you can get from the embarrassment of your children in public, mostly as payback for crap they did as babies and/ or toddlers, but also for just being kids.  Looking back, my dad was totally in on that secret.

So there I was, racing down Pico Mountain, cutting tight left and right, skis all parallel like I was one of the Mahre twins (at least in my mind I was), and then I would inevitably hear him singing down from above…

IMG_0493

“I love my Staaaaaaaaaa-cy,
Oh, yes I doooooooooo.
When she’s not near to meeeeeeeeee,
I’m sad and bluuuuuuuuuue.
I love her truuuuuuuuuu-ly,
I doooooooooo!
Oh, Staaaaaaaaaa-cy,
I LOVE YOU!”

Yes, I cringed.  Yes, I pretended I didn’t know him.  Yes, I skied away as fast as I could.  But it secretly made me so happy that my dad would put himself out there (he is a horrible, and LOUD singer) to express his love-slash-retribution like that.  To this day, I smile with such joy every time I see a chairlift.

On this Father’s Day, I want to tell my dad just how much I love him right back…

I love you truly,
I do!
Oh, Daddy,
I LOVE YOU!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the embarrassing dads out there.  xo

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Tell Us a Story

It is important that Sheepdog spend as much time with our daughters as possible, else they are more likely to become meth addicts or end up headlining at Delilah’s Den.  Without even being aware of it they are setting their own relationship standards for the future, and they are learning mainly by watching him.  So, technically, if one of them ends up grinding one-night-stands on the dance floor or is referred to as the girl who knows how to “hook a steak up,” it would be all Sheepdog’s fault.  No pressure there, right?

As I am acutely aware of this, I encourage any and all father/ daughter interaction.  Over the years they have tried many activities together.  They have done the standard dinner and a movie date many times, but it does not really allow for enough quality conversation.  They have also gone the more active route of biking and running, but those sports require that the parties be on at least similar skill levels in order for everybody to have a good time (you can’t really talk if you are constantly panting and on the verge of passing out just to keep up).  Hiking was a great alternative until the girls had to go in the woods and got all freaked out over squatting in public and wiping with leaves (they get that from their mother).  So on to other activities they went.  We are not giving up.

Recently Sheepdog has been taking Kid A out to practice driving.  I don’t care if your daughter is Danica Patrick, teaching a girl to drive is fraught with peril.  And frankly, Kid A is not exactly a natural behind the wheel.  She and Sheepdog did not do well together in an enclosed vehicle, especially after he yelled at her (in his defense, she almost ran over two pedestrians).  After I went out to practice with her a few times (promising myself that I would not raise my voice or clench or cry while sitting in the passenger seat, so as to not derail her already wavering confidence), I was so scared that I actually called the local driving school anonymously.

Instructor:  “Good afternoon, Johns Creek Driving School.  How may I help you?”
 
Me:  “Hi.  I am not going to tell you my name on purpose.  My kid has been practicing her driving for a while now and she is still really bad.  I mean REALLY bad.  Just awful.  I don’t even want to let her out of the neighborhood yet.  Actually, I don’t want to let her out of our driveway.  She took your class this summer and she only has three months in which to complete her six hours of behind the wheel.  I don’t think that’s gonna happen.  What should I do?”
 
Instructor:  “It is okay, ma’am.  This actually happens a lot.  We can certainly give you an extension.  But maybe you should have her start her behind the wheel lessons and let one of our qualified instructors work with her.”
 
Me:  “You don’t understand.  I would feel responsible if she hurt someone or crashed one of your cars.  And I feel fairly certain that would happen.”
 
Instructor:  “It’s really okay, ma’am.  The instructors have brake and gas pedals and they have no problem taking the wheel if need be.  I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
 
Me:  “I don’t care if Jesus takes the wheel.  This kid is high risk.”

Sheepdog decided he was going to try again to teach our daughter to drive.  He figured that he should get her driving in a more relaxed atmosphere, so he took Kid A and Kid C (Kid B was at dinner with her soccer team) to the Andretti Speed Lab in Roswell.  This place is as cool as the name implies.  They have rock climbing, video games, a ropes course, pool tables, bowling, basketball, a comedy club, and the main attraction – extreme SuperKarts, complete with 9 hp Honda GX-270 engines in them.  And it was a twofer in that he got to spend some quality daddy/ daughter time together with the girls.

Is it too much to ask Kid A to wear this while driving a regular car too? Cause I'm certainly gonna be wearing one in the passenger seat.

Round and round the track they went.  Sheepdog had a blast.  Kid C didn’t drive by herself because she was afraid at first, but she and Sheepdog have another date planned there so she can learn to drive soon.  Kid A apparently acquired some decent driving skills on the track, although she still has a way to go before we release her on GA-400.  All in all, it was a great plan.  Way to go Sheepdog!

On the drive home the girls were pestering Sheepdog to bond with them some more.

“Tell us a story,” they begged.  “Tell us a story like mommy does.” 
 
“I don’t know any stories,” answered Sheepdog.
 
“Tell us about your first girlfriend, ” prompted Kid A.
 
“Well… define ‘first girlfriend.’  Do you mean the first girl I took on a real date or the first girl I made out with or what?”
 
Always looking for the more salacious details, both girls responded, “The first girl you made out with!”
 
Sheepdog though for a minute.  Then he began, “I don’t remember the details, but I guess I was in fifth or sixth grade…”
 
From the backseat Kid C (who is in fifth grade herself) yelled, “Well, I’m certainly not ready for THAT!”

I don’t know if Sheepdog is going in the right direction with this whole father/ daughter bonding thing.  He may need a little more coaching first.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Who’s Calling?

Last weekend was high co-pay, medically speaking, for my extended family.  Pregnant Sister C had a fever of 102 degrees and had to go to the hospital.  Long story made short… she must have caught a virus, but mama and the baby are doing very well now.  Meanwhile, in New Jersey my dad apparently started exhibiting symptoms of a partially detached retina (floaters, flashes of light, heaviness of the eye, a sudden urge to come out of retirement and fight Marvelous Marvin Hagler) and had to go up to Wills Eye Emergency Room in Philadelphia to get it lasered.  He ended up having to go back for problems and follow-ups several times over this past week.  But you don’t screw around with a medical emergency that can leave you blind, so back and forth he and my mom went.

My dad is kind of a hard man to reach (both literally and figuratively, but that’s a whole different story…).  He does not like to talk on the phone.  He doesn’t even carry his cell with him; he leaves it in his car for emergencies.  When he is at the office he is usually all business, so I hesitate to call him there for fear of interrupting.  But when I haven’t spoken to him in a while and I want to check in with him on the phone in person (and not third party through my mom while he yells stuff in the background), I call him at work.  So the other day while I was driving the Mom Shuttle around town I decided to take my chances so I put on my bluetooth and I dialed his office number.

Receptionist:  Good afternoon, Weiss & Paarz, how may I help you?

Me:  Hi.  May I speak to Bob Paarz, please?

Receptionist:  May I ask who’s calling?

Me:  Sure.  This is Stacy, his daughter.  No, wait!  I’m actually his favorite daughter.  Don’t tell him my name.  Would you please just announce me as “your favorite daughter?”  That would be really fun.

Receptionist: (either scared to death for fear of pissing off her boss or suppressing giggles because she likes my idea, I can’t tell which) Sigh.  Please hold.

My dad:  (tentatively) Hello?

Me: (using a fabulously disguised voice)  Hello!  How are you?

My dad (still tentative, but laughing at me) I’m good.  How are you? (he still obviously has no idea which daughter I am)

Me: (ramping up the fabulousness of my disguised voice and having to suppress my own fits of laughter at the same time) I’m good, but I was worried about you.  Sounds like you had a rough week.

My dad: (continuing to make small talk to figure out who his “favorite” daughter is) Blah. blah, blah.

Me: (escalating the voice to a cartoonish level and decibel, at which point I break character and can’t stop laughing) That was fun!  Sometimes I crack myself up.

My dad:  You’re an idiot.

Jack Bauer: Chloe, I need those schematics now! Bart: Who is this? Jack: I'm Jack Bauer - who the hell are you? Bart: Me? I'm, uh, Ahmed Adoudi. Jack: Chloe, find out all you can about Ahmed Adoudi. Does anyone there know "I made a doodie"? Chloe: Ahmed Adoudi - wealthy Saudi financier. Disappeared into Afghanistan in the late '90s. Jack: Really? Chloe: No, Jack, it's a joke name. You're being set up! Jack: Damn it!

At least I got to talk to my daddy.  So it was a very good day.

Wish me luck for the weekend…