“Too Old for the High Dive,” Friend, June 1992, 28
My dad’s older than all my friends’ dads. He’s too old to do anything.
At the pool last summer, Jimmy’s dad did a triple somersault off the high dive. Everyone cheered. I asked my dad if he would do one too.
He laughed. “Steven, I wouldn’t survive a fall like that. Let’s get in the pool, and I’ll teach you the backstroke.”
So I learned the backstroke, but no one was cheering.
In the fall, I went out for soccer. Megan’s dad was the coach. He ran up and down the field with us for hours, shouting out the plays and showing us how to kick. My dad watched from the bleachers.
“Dad, can’t you be assistant coach or something?” I asked.
“I don’t have the energy to keep going for that length of time, Steven. But I’ve thought of a few new plays I’d like to tell your coach.”
Megan’s dad used the plays, and we won most of our games. At the end of the season banquet, Megan’s dad got a trophy. My dad just watched and applauded.
During the winter, our class went on a ski trip. All the fathers came, and they all skied down the toughest slopes. All except my dad. He would only go on the bunny slope.
“I don’t need any broken bones at my age,” my dad said when I begged him to try a bigger hill. And instead of always skiing, my dad helped some of the beginners learn to stay up on their skis.
Then at the end of the school year, our class had a parent’s day program. Most of the parents took off work to come and talk about their jobs. Since my dad was retired, I figured he wouldn’t have anything to talk about.
I sat next to John. I didn’t see his father on the stage. “Where’s your dad?” I asked.
“He couldn’t come. He’s away on a business trip. He’s gone a lot.” John wasn’t too happy about that.
“My dad’s always around.”
One by one the parents got up and talked about their jobs. Some of them had really exciting jobs. One was a pilot and one was a paramedic. One father even taught skydiving. After the skydiver, it was my dad’s turn. What is he going to talk about? I wondered.
“My job is my son Steven,” he began. “I like to help him learn things and to participate in his activities. I hope I’m always there when he needs me. He doesn’t think I do anything exciting, but to me, being with him every day is the most exciting thing I could do.”
I was so surprised, I couldn’t move. Even when everyone else in the room stood up and applauded him, I still couldn’t move.
After the program I ran to find my dad. I told him that I understood and that I was glad he wasn’t too old to be my dad.