Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Everything Else is Just Subtitles

One of the shifts in my neuropsychological evaluations from pre surgery to post surgery is that my
auditory memory isn't what it used to be and that I don't hear the range of voices that usually belong to women as well... if that's not a set up for a good joke or a good excuse, I'm not sure what is. So on the occasions that I watch tv, the subtitles are always on.

That was the entirety of thought I'd ever given subtitles until recently. Kiana and I have been having a great summer the last couple of weeks. We've been doing the disciplined stuff of running for a long time, getting some exercise in where she's joined me for running and shown me up in cross fit. She climbed all the way to top of a rope in a gym without hesitation. I've often said that the fact that she's fearless scares me plenty and that was one of those times (If it's any indication on these things whether it was that or the first time she learned to ride a bike or anything like that, I never quite have the confidence to take a picture the first time because I am trying to be there to catch her when she falls which has never happened but still).

But it's a summer of exploring new things for her so we're going from new activity to new activity. While there is a plethora of first time activities that we do that are typical, like going to Inside Out where it makes me teary eyed to hear her announce that she's always going to be joy, there are also some things that she's getting to join me in for the first time that I've had a chance to be there before. I took her to the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower center, trying to combine two things she loves and reminding her of the concept I love that butterflies are self propelled flowers. She loved all the different flowers and trees and the squirrels and the butterflies. With eyes wide open, she sat there and took it all in while asking a million questions. There were a couple of points where it was obvious she was my daughter, the place where she struggled the most was with the concept of mediation. She concluded (and I agree) with a pensive face something was insurmountable. When I asked her what she was thinking about, she said she was trying to think about nothing but it was impossible to do so. I'm sure there's an argument to be made about clearing your mind but I'm all right with her always thinking about something and dare to dream that she keeps it a positive thing. I'm not a guy whose big into flowers but count me in to go to that wildflower center or give flowers to get a smile out of a girl I love.

That certainly was true as we pursued happiness on 4th of July. We went to a party with the running crowd where even a little after a year I've been driving I realized how lucky I was to be part of this group because it was hosted by a guy who regularly gave me rides and there were 4 other people who were way better than uber or taxi's for all that time I couldn't drive. There was a magical moment where she was talking about being in GT program and someone asked, oh are you gifted and talent. With more humility than perhaps I ever showed at any point in life, she responded gracefully and humbly, well that's what the program I'm in is called. I was so proud of her for being humble :).

Then the evening finished up with some friends as we went for my first time ever to catch fireworks while having kayaked out to a lake. The friend we spent the most time with was actually Pamela Leblanc, a reporter whose become a friend, and her husband Chris. Kiana had a thousand questions about many things and I couldn't bypass the joke that perhaps with all of Kiana's curiosity she might become a reporter but I suggested that it was perhaps better if she had a more honest job. Still, as we sat there we kept having to row because of a tailwind to get back to where we'd not have a bridge in our view. Kiana had color explanations about beautiful explosions and declared it the best 4th of July ever. At the end of kayaking back over a mile back to the starting point against the wind, she still said that was the best independence day ever but she also asked if that counted as a workout. It obviously did but it was good to see her smiling at the end of realizing that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness sometimes takes some hard work in order to get it all done.

There is one title I didn't feel the need to defend that still I ended up signing up for. Last few years
our church has had a pie eating contest that I joined only in 2014 but I won it. This year for some reason they decided to make it a rib eating contest so I'd tried to bow out since it's not exactly defending a title if they change the event and I've never won a duathlon so... Still at the service before the picnic they had a child dedication service with several families. The family pastor as he talked about it twice said something which I couldn't quite figure out if it was a slip of the tongue or a conscious decision. He said that were challenges to raising a parent correctly. Some of the stories Kiana and I share together sure make me hope she's doing okay. Still, when the rib eating contest came, I questioned it when she insisted that I partake in it. With a crowd that echoes Ecclesiastes idea that whatever your hand finds to do, you do it with all your might, I couldn't resist. And I won. I've won races from a mile to a marathon but the two biggest trophies I've ever received have been for the pie eating contest and the rib eating contest which is fitting because they may have been the toughest to earn.

Still, it was the next day that had where today's title is from (notice title, not subtitle). Kiana and I
went on the longest walk we've ever gone on a little over 4 miles total. The point we went to was a natural spring which was the first and only time she's ever drank natural water. We caught some swimming on the way there and back. We saw insects, squirrels, a snake and caught some beautiful scenery. When we got to the water, I told her this was the point of today, for her to drink some natural water for the first time.  Showing that she's stepping up to the challenge of raising a parent, she said, "No the point of today was for us to have a fun day together. The water, the swimming, and everything else was just subtitles." She's doing a great job raising me.

So we've continued the summer adventures and I took her to places that I thought she was too young for not too long ago. There is a place I've only gone with cancer survivors and people I love. I'm not sure why but every time I've gone to the Hope Gallery, an outdoor spray paint park, people have landed in those categories (not that they're always mutually exclusive). It's open to the public both for visiting and for doing anything they want with spray paint so not everything is exactly kosher. Still, most things are and so I finally decided to take the child I love most to it, to let her know that a black and white world is not the world I want to live in. It's not even one that's grayscale but one that has a bigger range of color than even the fireworks had over the lake. So many things caught her eye and if it was any of the questionable ones, she didn't mention those or take pictures of any of those. We hadn't even left yet when she had already announced we should come back with more time and with a spray paint bottle... I said yes and then went into a small lecture about how there are appropriate places to do that... but not many.

Still in what has been a very good year,  I had to take the cue from Robbie Williams and swing while I'm winning. So the next day, yesterday, we went on a slightly shorter walk along the same river where I told Kiana that the point was to have fun but the subtitles this time included a swing. She laughed at me remembering her point and then we spent the better part of 3 hours going into a lake over and over and swimming. The first one I had to count down for her and tell her when to let go. The last one she climbed up on her own, jumped higher, went out further and let go the furthest. I had video taped and taken pictures of the first couple but the last ones I was in the water just mesmerized by how fearless she got. How fearless she is sometimes scares me but someone else we met there pointed out that maybe I shouldn't worry so much because the people who seemed to be struggling the most were those with more fear, nearly falling off the tree or letting go to close to shore. My parenting philosophy has always been first you gotta give them roots then give them wings. At eight years old, I'll take it that she's climbing up trees for some solid tree rope swings. Cause it was really about a fun time together with some very good subtitles.

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