I made some predictions in a recent post. Prediction #1: My son and I would attempt to catch some Olympic cross-country skiing on TV. Prediction #2: Those races might inspire us to hit the trails together. Prediction #3: This would cause me to transfer the burden of my unfulfilled dreams of Olympic glory onto his shoulders, in an attempt to live vicariously through him, as fathers of my ilk are wont to do.
Skipping primetime coverage of the elegant and glamorous sports, we were able to catch some fleeting moments of our favorite gritty, ugly sports during the afternoon, better-than-dead-air, filler broadcasts. We enjoyed truncated depictions of random cross-country races. We even caught a biathlon event. We may have been the only two Americans who enjoyed it. I understand; biathlon is too slow for this country. Had it been developed here, it would be done on downhill skis, and with a machine gun. And I’d kind of like to watch that too (but not in person).
My prediction #1: CORRECT
Having ferreted out our favorite Olympic sports and taken inspiration from them, we went to the park to emulate the Olympians. We didn’t attempt biathlon practice, not because it wouldn’t have been fun for us and exciting for the other park patrons; rather, neither of us wanted to go chasing after the Nerf bullets.
My prediction #2: CORRECT
Though my son seems to like skiing, it takes more practice, and can become more frustrating than sports like, oh, say, sledding. Knowing this, I chose a park with a sledding hill and snuck a plastic sled into the trunk, just in case.
For a five-year-old, skiing means concentration, hard work, and falling down, especially when your dad needs to replace the short skis and poles you got when you were three. For a dad, skiing with a five-year-old means a lot of standing around, issuing encouragement, and getting cold. Together, we got through those frustrations.
Then, the great moment happened. The boy found his groove. It takes him time to get going because we don’t practice enough. But when he gets going, he has fun, and I get excited for him.
“You’re going so fast!” I told him. “I wish Mommy were here to see this!”
“Me too,” he replied. “It’s too bad she won’t go outside in winter.”
Too bad indeed, she doesn’t know what she’s missing.
At that point, things went off plan. I was supposed to envision him skiing across the finish line in the 2030 Olympics. I didn’t. Instead, I had visions of him skiing with me as an eight-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 16-year old, getting bigger and stronger, making me struggle to keep up. Along the way, his little brother joined us, then his other, soon-to-be little brother.
Mommy wouldn’t come out of the house. Even dreams have limits.
We went all the way around a big loop, the four of us, growing up the whole way. My old Olympic dream faded, replaced by a better one.
Then, we came to the sled hill. It was just me and my five-year-old again. We got our sled and put some icing on that cake.