Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hey, kids, watch this!

Ever notice how the older your kids get, the harder they are to impress?

When my kids were younger, they thought I was magic. I'd simply walk up to the automatic door of the grocery store, wave my hand and say, "Abracadabra!" and it would open. If I wanted money, I drove to the ATM, punched in a few numbers, and -- presto -- money for McDonald's would magically appear. In the kitchen, they were in awe of me. I could take a cup of flour, add a dash of food coloring and a pinch of cream of tartar, and -- wham -- playdough. And if they were thirsty, I'd sprinkle a little fairy dust into a jug, add water and sugar, and -- oh, yeah -- it's Kool-Aid time.

Sigh ... those were the wonder years.

Nowadays, I'm lucky if they even go to the grocery store with me (though I'd never thought I'd hear myself say that) and $10 from the ATM doesn't dazzle them much. In fact, it no longer buys us lunch. They haven't touched playdough, homemade or store bought, in years, and after their first sip of Coke, Kool-Aid was no longer their drink of choice. Somehow, between the ages of 6 and 13, I had lost my magic.

Today, my jokes aren't quite as funny (well, they are, but they won't admit it). My daughter can almost beat me in tennis, and my son has realized that I throw like a girl. My job makes them roll their eyes, and my cooking ... well, let's just say I raised them to know better than complain about that.

All this to say, when I see an opportunity to show off for them, it's carpe diem. We spent Memorial Day on the lake and such an opportunity presented itself in the form of water skis. I grew up skiing, though unbeknownst to them, I'm not really the best. I never learned to slalom, much less do the tricks my older cousins could. Mainly, I would just hang on, hold my breath and cross the wake occasionally until my legs gave out.

As an adult, not much has changed, except for the fact that my kids were watching. Forget the long haul, I quickly realized I was good for a short burst, so I might as well give it all that I had. I waved and crossed the wake repeatedly, hanging on by one hand, bounding over the waves and ignoring the water in my contact lenses. In the boat, I could see my kids excitedly waving and pointing.

As I neatly let go of the rope and slide into the water near the dock, the kids cheered and bragged. I stayed in the water to swim a little longer, which delighted them and prolonged the inevitable for me -- getting out. My legs were so tired from exertion, I knew they would quiver the minute I hit dry land. Eventually, they went up to the cabin, and I unceremoniously crawled out, feeling happy and satisfied that I had managed to impress them once again. I fell asleep not long after reaching the cabin.

The next day, I woke up and realized I could not move my lower half without agony. My back was killing me, and the kids were hungry. Determined not to complain, I limped over to the stove, and after standing for a while, I couldn't help but mumble about it being sore.

"What's it sore from?" my daughter asked.

"Skiing," I said, surprised she had to ask.

"Oh, yeah, I forgot you skied," she said and then let out a short laugh. It could have been misinterpreted, but I knew what it meant. My back may have been killing me, but I had regained just a little bit of magic that day, and to the parent of a teen and tween, it was worth it.

Now, if I can just use my magic wand to find the muscle relaxers.

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