I went surfing with my 12-year-old daughter.
What could be better?
She doesn’t rip at surfing, but she’s getting better.
When we got to the beach, the surf was big. It was one of those days when I pull on my surf shirt in seconds and leave my wife to put up the umbrella and windbreak.
A lifeguard we know laughed at how fast I got ready, and said to my wife and me, “When it’s good, you’ve got to hit it.”
And my daughter did, too, right behind me.
The wind was offshore and the waves were overhead, and a rising tide was pushing in the swell. The sets broke clean and hard. I made it out. My daughter didn’t. She got pummeled on the inside. I turned around and considered paddling in to help her. But then a lull came, and she made it out.
That’s when I started to fret.
It was big and this meant that, really, it would be better for her to surf on the inside, in the whitewater.
But after three years of surfing, she’s become rather stubborn, and she likes to go for it. And I’ve learned not to try to leave her behind for the no-worry pleasure of surfing on my own.
Because she’ll come out there with me anyway.
I turned to look at her as she paddled up next to me, and I smiled and said, “Hey, let’s catch some big ones.”
“You mean like those,” she said, pointing out to sea.
Sure enough, a set approached and we were too far in, and so we paddled. Other surfers did, too, scratching to get over the first wave of the set with the hope of not getting caught by the next.
I made it over, and the others did too.
I looked for her behind me after coming down the back of the first wave, but she wasn’t there. Shit, I thought.
But then I saw her.
She had done what none of us surfers had done. She had turned and stroked into that first big wave, and now I could see her from the back of the wave riding to shore.
Then I looked back out to sea for my big wave to come before my preteen would paddle back out to us, her fellow surfers.