Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snowball Surprise

As a dad, I really try hard to make vacations memorable. I have so many great memories of my family vacations when I was growing up, and want to pass those same types of memories onto my kids.

Well, this is the story of one of those times when a dad tries a little too hard.

When Austin was about four years old, we drove the minivan from Iowa to Colorado for a summer getaway, visiting friends in Vail. We knew Austin would really get a kick out of taking the ski lift to the top of the mountain to see snow in the 80ยบ summer weather. The ride on the lift was great, watching the green grass change to the snow-white covered mountain top. Austin couldn’t wait to get off the lift and play in the snow. We hopped off and I reached down to scoop up a handful of snow – and discovered it was the perfect consistency for making snowballs. I threw one down the mountain. Austin eagerly followed my lead, but instead of throwing his snowball down the mountain, he turned toward me, pulled his arm back, and launched the snowball – hitting me directly in the stomach. Laughing with the giggle that can only come from a tickled four-year old, he reached down to reload for another attempt. Like a scared jackrabbit, I sprinted away to take cover behind a snow bank. Austin took another shot. Being more prepared this time, I jumped to avoid taking a direct hit to the leg.

Before I continue, I must preface this part of the story with the fact that I really have no athletic skill or ability whatsoever. But I wasn’t going to let that little fact stand in the way of an awesome summertime snowball fight with my son.

I grabbed a handful of snow, packed it into the perfect baseball shaped snowball. In an instant, Austin knew what was coming. The sheepish smile on his face faded away as he realized he was now MY target. He turned to run away. I took aim, and fired a shot directly at the center of his back. To this day, I can still see what happened next in my mind—it plays over and over like a slow motion movie. As Austin is running, he looked back over his shoulder, to see the speeding snowball grow larger and larger as it sped toward him. But instead of hitting him in the back, the tightly-packed ball of ice nailed him squarely in the face! Yep. A direct hit, knocking him off his little size three shoes and onto the ground. At that moment, I really don’t know who was more stunned – Austin – myself – or my wife who conveniently saw the whole thing. There was the obligatory two seconds of silence before the screaming. And I mean SCREAMING (it’s amazing how loud sounds actually do echo when you’re on the top of a mountain!) Austin’s screaming continued as his reddened face started to swell. My wife was screaming at me, as in “what-the-hell-were-you-thinking-you-know-can’t-throw-to-save-your-life” screaming. And my two-year old daughter was screaming – well because she’s two, and that’s what two-year olds do when they hear other people screaming. As I ran to Austin, he looked at me in complete and absolute FEAR. He started to run away from me, fearing I was going to nail him again! He hid behind his mother, seeking protection from this monster that his daddy had turned into. After a few minutes – and promises of an ice cream cone, a ride on REAL train and my commitment that I would never hit him in the face with a snowball again, Austin was able to pull himself together to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

So, ultimately, my mission was fulfilled – we did make a vacation memory that will last a lifetime.

I know my son will never let me forget it!


Anonymous said...

Good to know you didn't break his nose or something!

Anonymous said...

oh man