Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sometimes Daddy Makes Mistakes

Shortly after my first daughter was born, GM encouraged me to get my masters. The thesis was the final part of the program. We were encouraged to include a dedication on the front page. This was what I wrote:

I dedicate this thesis to my daughter Emilie. This paper represents the accumulation of 2 years of effort; effort that should have been dedicated to you, and for that I apologize. Sometimes daddy makes mistakes.

One of the constraints in my quest to place this year is I will not take time away from my kids for training. I clearly need to ride more so part of my plan will be to come up with clever ways to fit more riding into my schedule. This won't be easy since I have already tried to fit cycling in every empty nook and cranny of my life. When the kids were young I would pull them in a Burly trailer to a well pump at the Brighton Req Area trail head. I called it "princess water" which they believed completely. We would ride 30 minutes to get there, fill some bottles full of princess water, and ride 30 minutes back home. Having their own princess water was enough to keep them happy on this journey. When they got older we would ride a tandem together. They enjoyed this, so much so that I had dreams of them taking bicycle racing farther than I could. As they got older their affection for bicycling cooled to that of other kids. I take my bicycle with us every year on our family vacation at Disney World. When they are content doing something else, I sneak off to the parking lot to do intervals: sprint from the Pluto section to the Goofy section, recover to Donald Duck, sprint to Daisey Duck, etc. All this isn't enough.

What I came up with is to join a fitness club in Northville. I already have a membership at the fitness club walking distance from my home in Brighton; however, I joined this very expensive, very big, and very vain club in Northville so I can ride after I drop the kids off at dance a few days a week. When they both have dance practice on the same night this works great: drop them off, ride, back before they notice I'm gone. I knew Wednesdays would be tough because Em dances but Allie doesn't. Allie and I always find something to do on Wednesdays: go to church, visit my parents, or, her favorite thing in the world, go to Borders Books. She loves that place but not so much for reading. She is a very funny 8 year old with a dark, sarcastic sense of humor. She likes to make fun of things: book titles, pictures of the authors, other people in the store...Borders gives her lots of material.

I knew talking Allie into going to the fitness club on Wednesdays would be tough because she is cool to new things. Last Saturday I took Em and Allie there because Em would make her comfortable with the childcare at Lifetime Fitness. Em is a very good big sister. I only left them in the childcare for 20 minutes, long enough to get use to it but not so long that they get board. I then took them swimming at the nice pool they have there and we had a great time. On the way home I ask Allie if she had fun. She says: "oh yes, I want to go back there again!" That was my in. I said: "tell you what...on Wednesday when we drop Em off at dance, how about we come back here? You go in the childcare while I ride then we will both go swimming, sound like a good plan?" Allie: "yeah." Me: "are you suuuure?" Allie: "yes!" Alright, that is the commitment I needed. But commitment from an 8 year old is a fickle thing. Wednesday I pick up the kids from school, swing by the house to get Allie's bathing suite, drop off Em at dance, and go to the club. In the parking lot of the club Allie says she doesn't think she want to go to Lifetime Fitness. "OK hun, what would you like to do?"

So there we were in the children's section of Borders. Allie picks up a scratch & sniff book. One thing she scratches and sniffs is a skunk. She slams down the book in disgust and, throwing her arms around in exaggerated animation, she yells at the book, loud enough for everyone in the section to hear her: "What kind of parent would buy their child a scratch and sniff book with a skunk in it!" She is still facing the book but her eyes look over to me to make sure I am laughing. I am cracking up. God I love her.

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