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[twitter]Before last weekend, I don’t remember the last time I was on a diving board. It’s probably been at least 20 yrs, maybe even 30.
When I was 9 I took diving lessons at our local pool. I remember riding my bike by myself to the pool some half a dozen blocks away.
Sidebar: anyone here let their 9 yr old ride their bikes to activities on their own? Didn’t think so.
Anyhow, when I was 9, I was in diving lessons and I rode my bike there. I did forward dives, back dives, and inverted dives off the 1 metre board, and I remember jumping (and diving once or twice) off the 3 metre board.
Fast forward to this summer and the time Zacharie and I spent a weekend camping out in Radium Hot Springs where we made the short hike over to the springs to go for a swim. Unlike other mountain springs, this facility has two pools. There’s the one where you soak and enjoy the hot mineral waters, and there’s a pool where you can swim and splash in water that’s still warm, but cooler than the soaking pool. This second pool has a slide and .. a diving board.
After watching a 70 yr old man in a Speedo bounce aggressively into a beautiful arching swan dive, Zacharie wanted to get on the board and try. He’d never been on a diving board before. Pools these days seem to choose slides over boards, so Z had never been on one.
He tentatively walked the plank and nervously tested the spring. He wanted to bound like the old man, I told him to take it easy. He jumped in, scrambled to the side and immediately went back in line. After the 4th or 5th try, he encouraged me off the side of the pool to get in line.
“Your turn, daddy!”
Now you know what it’s like, when you did something in your youth and then go to pick it up again decades later. Your mind remembers exactly how good you were at the skill, your muscles have absolutely no memory of the event ever happening.
I got on the board. “It’s higher than I remember”, I thought. The spring wasn’t as familiar as I had hoped. My muscles didn’t know how to handle the bounce, and instead of a graceful dive, I shuffled off the edge.
Zacharie cheered regardless, and then he went off. Each time he went, he was braver, more daring, and bolder in his splashes. He dropped off, ran off, leaped off, pretended he was a pirate walking the plank, did spin-o-ramas, he didn’t want to stop.
And there was me, sitting on the ledge of the pool beaming at my son and his newly discovered skill wishing I still had some of it.
That’s the thing about kids. They remind us of things we used to do, they encourage us to do them again, and they give us a chance to relive the youthful exuberance of childhood vicariously through them and, if we’re ever brave enough to get back up on the diving board and go for a bounce, we can experience that energy all on our own.
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