I am so excited today to tell you a story about my baby girl who isn't such a baby anymore. It's one of my favorite stories from one of our memories.
She's 13 years old, entering her teenage years as a Freshman in high school at Piedmont Hills. She still melts my heart every time she gives me a kiss on the cheek to say Hello or Good Bye.
It was the summer of 2005, out in the gorgeous forests of New Mexico. It was a beautiful day at Fenton lake, sunny with a little bit of clouds and not too hot. A great time to catch a few rainbow trout, cook them up, feast and go home. We used to love that about New Mexico. Camping, fishing, family time.
But this trip was different. We decided to try something new. We got one of those $35 inflatable rafts from Walmart that supposedly held two people.
Now this lake had a dock, where normal boats would be backed into the lake. So we decided that was a great place to launch or little inflatable raft. We had a little generator. It made so much noise. Now the kids watching were just building with anticipation and couldn't wait to go out with papa. Midori was 3 at the time and Hideshi was almost 5. I decided to take Midori out first.
So I climb in the boat and sit Midori on the opposite side. Now both sides of the raft have little holders for the ores, so I place the ores in their places. We start to head out and I am just trying to learn how the ores work. How you row, turn, just getting comfortable.
Everything is fine. Smooth. Then, when we get about fifteen feet out, Midori decides she wants to sit on my lap. So I decide fine no big deal. But in this small boat, there's a weight disparity, so all of the weight is on one side of the boat... Not a good thing. And Midori won't sit still. She's climbing on me putting her hands on my face and for whatever reason trying to climb on my shoulders. Do you know how hard it is to row with a 3 year old climbing on top of you?
So I put Midori down. And I tell her to stay seated. But she keeps coming back. And by this point, I start to notice the wind is picking up a little and I am a floating too far from the dock. And as I am wrestling with my daughter, several people on the shore fishing are watching us. I can't imagine what they thought watching a 6 foot 2 man in this tiny $35 raft, who can't row because a little baby is climbing on him.
Finally, I start to row because I want to get back close to the dock. And sure enough, Midori kicks off her shoes. I don't know if you know anything about babies but for whatever reason, they never keep their shoes on. I'm now trying to hold onto the shoes, row and keep Midori on her side of the boat. I have no clue what got into Midori, but as I am putting her onto her side of the boat, she grabs one of the shoes and throws it overboard.
As the shoe starts to sink, I quickly paddle over to grab the shoe. Whew. That was close. But I look down and the other shoe is gone. Midori threw it out onto the other side of the boat. So I paddle over. And I stretch out and I barely got it. I kinda sink back and think to myself. Yes! Victory. Shoes. Locked and secure. Midori is in the boat. Check.
And I look around and one of the ores is missing. Midori had thrown it overboard. So I quickly try to paddle with one ore but I don't want to hit Midori. I'm still trying to fend off Midori and hold onto the shoes. And I watch as the ore slowly sinks into the lake. I still remember the sight of the light hitting the ore and watching it slowly fade into the abyss. One ore down.
So I have one ore. Some water has leaked into the boat because Midori keeps climbing on my side. I am trying to hold the shoes tightly between my legs. People are now laughing and the spectacle we are making. Then, the wind really picks up. And we are floating all the way down the lake. And I'm picturing myself, with a barefoot three year old, trying to walk back up the lake with her and the inflatable raft, which would inevitably pop. Not gonna happen.
I'm thinking to myself. You work out. Your in shape. You got this. So with my one plastic ore, I start rowing. Now, I'm am pushing hard. Each stroke, I'm just using full on force. Its me versus the wind and I start to go. And we are moving, its happening. We are slowly moving up stream. Then, snap, the ore breaks. I quickly grab the bottom half.
Now I am using the bottom of the ore. It's almost like I am paddling with my hand. All I can think about is, let's get Midori safe back onto the shore with both shoes in tact. So I battle up. And of course, people are still laughing at the site of a 6 foot 2 man in a small little inflatable raft, wrestling with his daughter, who is trying to row a boat with not even one ore but the bottom half of a plastic ore.
Sure enough, exhausted I get to the shore. Midori gets safely unloaded. I take a huge sigh of relief. And Hideshi runs up, apparently more excited now after watching how much fun we've had and yells out, "My turn!"
That was my inflatable raft memory with my baby girl who isn't such a baby anymore.