We just finished weekend one, of two, in the 36th annual Menehune contest in Haleiwa. And ya know what I have to say about surfing? It’s unpredictable.
You can’t PLAN training times or places, because they are all dependent on variables that come directly from Mother Nature: Tide, swell, winds, and waves. Sure, you can read the surf report, listen to the weather report…but from one minute to the next, things can change.
So, we live with this.
Because this is, how we live. (I know–deep thoughts. But I’m tired, and I’m trying to get to a little story here.)
You see, surf contests take the whole “unpredictable” thing to the next level.
Knowing how to plan your (TWO) Menehune weekends is almost impossible. All you (and 150+ other families) can do is show up to the beach at 7:00 AM the first morning of the contest to read on the big display board and see WHO is slated to surf that day, and when. OR IF. And if a kid isn’t slated for Saturday, morning, check back about the afternoon. If not then, try showing up again Sunday. If Sunday isn’t your day, try back next weekend.
Now, this isn’t anyone’s fault, or a problem in planning–quite the opposite. The event organizers are actually trying to cater, very carefully, to the surfer’s involved. They want to make sure the waves are small enough for the mini-groms (4-6 year old,) and big enough for the bigger kids. They have to keep everyone safe, but they also need surf-able waves. It’s very tricky.
So, as you can imagine, the only way to be sure you don’t miss your kid’s one heat of the contest, is to camp out all weekend at the beach. And hope your kid might eventually get to surf. And if not, then pack up your cooler, your beach blankets, and your sunburnt kids, and go home.
And do it again next weekend. (Yes, we pay to do these things.)
So here’s how things turned out for us this weekend: After planning our weekend imagining that Luke’s division would be on for Saturday, it wasn’t. Sunday morning, however, his division was there on the big board. He was set to go out just after 11:00 AM. The waves were SO tiny, we kept waiting for them to call it off, but when 11:00 came, they actually called his heat. Luke was excited, and said he knew just what to do. He was actually in a fairly easy heat, without a lot of serious competition. He had watched all of the other heats, and Josiah was coaching him on exactly what to do.
And this is where the unpredictability turned into…I’m not sure. Tragedy or comedy?
Luke and four other 7-8 year olds paddled out. The horn blew and they had fourteen minutes to catch waves. (Judges score the best two waves for each surfer.) By five minutes into it, I was getting anxious. Actually, I was getting mad. All four of the other boys out there were catching little waves. But Luke wasn’t. He looked extremely relaxed, and like he was just waiting for a good one to come. But…(didn’t he know?) a big one’s NOT coming. We had coached him to “take anything” because the waves were so small. I am pretty sure I saw him playfully squirting water between his hands, and laughing with another kid. I sent Josiah to the edge of the water to scream something at him (Like “JUST CATCH A WAVE!”) and I started texting Dave at the hospital with things like “WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM!?” ”NOT A SINGLE WAVE YET” ”HE NEEDS TO BE SLAPPED!” Luke was without a doubt the best surfer in that heat. And yet, he was about to lose his heat.
**Quick aside: I really am not a die-hard competitive sport-mom. I’m really the “Just have fun out there kids!” type.
But I do like to believe that my kids are TRYING.
And in a situation like this, where I’m camped out for hours, sweaty and tired, with a two-year old in a sand-filled diaper next to me…I really want to believe they are trying…
(Now, did you believe any of that?)
Well, needless to say, something came up from deep within me.
And, I jumped up in all my dainty, feminine glory, and started swinging my arms furiously at Luke with some kind of motion that was supposed to mean “Paddle for a stinking wave!” but probably looked a little more like I was having a seizure.
And just about then I heard the announcer say three minutes left, and I sat down, exhausted, and defeated. But just about then, something turned on inside of Luke. (He was probably terrified that his mom would do that seizure thing again.) A little wave came…I saw him paddle. Paddle hard! And sure enough, he stood up. He had a decent ride, but nothing extraordinary. I was on the phone with Dave then, still fuming, ”FINALLY! He caught ONE, but it isn’t enough. He needs more and he’s almost out of time!” I might have even said something about “I never signed up to be a GROMMOM any ways, what kind of stupid sport is this?”
Luke was up on one more wave then, and to give a little credit, he even made a small turn on it. ”Still, NOT ENOUGH,” I mumbled, with clenched teeth, as if this was the Olympics or something. (Really, this isn’t like me…)
Then the horn blew, ending the heat. My stomach felt sick. What a waste of a weekend, is all I could think.
As Luke made his way over to us carrying an over-flowing goody-bag, Josiah turned to me and said “You’re not going to be mean to him, are you?”
“No, of course not!” I lied.
But Josiah beat me to it. He started in on “What were you doing out there? Were you actually PLAYING in the water?… I told you to…” And then I couldn’t resist joining in, “Seriously Luke, you’re the best surfer out there–WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? WHAT WERE YOU DOING OUT THERE!?”
(I know you can’t talk like that to all kids, but I could get by laying into Luke a bit, because he really is FULL of confidence, and he knows that I think he is a super-star surfer. I even forced a smile somewhere in there and said “It doesn’t really matter.” (Another lie.) (and I don’t usually lie, either.)
He shrugged, “Yeah, I know I lost. Let’s just go home.”
I told him he needed to hear the results, just because it’s just what you do. But I didn’t argue for a second, as I too thought he finished last.
So, as I picked up tractors and sippy cups and gathered towels and tortilla chips, the announcer came on with the results to Luke’s heat.
And we all waited as he called out the fifth place finisher, and it wasn’t Luke…
Then fourth, still not Luke…Was I hearing this right??
Then he announced the third place finisher, and IT wasn’t Luke. (UNBELIEVEABLE–TOP TWO GO ON TO SEMI-FINALS,)… Finally he named the second place finisher, and IT WASN’T LUKE!
And then he called Luke’s name as FIRST PLACE in the heat.
And we all started laughing.
I had absolutely nothing to say.
Luke punched my arm and smiled.
I sent Josiah back to my parent’s condo to try to get Levi down for a nap, (fortunately their condo is just a short walk from the contest beach,) and Luke and I hung out for two more hours for his semi-final heat…Which they cancelled in the last minute due to small waves.
Like I said, totally unpredictable, this sport.
We will be going back to the beach next Saturday to see how this story ends. Weather reports are suggesting a HUGE swell by next Saturday, which could be very interesting!
Thanks for letting me drag you through that one guys. I don’t know what I’d do without you!
FROM LUKE’S EVEN -KEELED, EXTREMELY PREDICTABLE mom
(because someone’s gotta be…)
PS Dog in a rash guard? LOVE IT!