Before I go any further, let me just say that I would never actually let my teenage stepkid float away to Cuba on a boogie board.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, it’s no great secret in our house that my teenage stepkid, Brandon and I don’t always see eye to eye on things. I tend to like a fairly clean house, he likes it looking like Godzilla just trampled through. I prefer that he does his chores, you know, so his Mother and I don’t have to, he would rather go online, make new friends all over the world on Black Ops, and then proceed to blow them up. I would be happy if he did his homework, he thinks school is getting in the way of his future, sure to be successful life.
All these things boil up sometimes, and I find myself wondering just what the hell I did to be tested like this, while Brandon winds up sitting in his Godzilla rampaged room, punished, with no one to blow up, and nothing to do except catch up on homework.
That brings us to Daytona Beach, last year. We had taken the kids at the end of summer, to enjoy a nice weekend on the beach. Needless to say, Brandon was playing my last nerve like a speed metal guitarist. He said he was bored and wanted to go home. Wah, wah, wah…
I decide that I’m gonna go for the Hail Mary, and try to get his mind off video games and destroying the house for awhile, and introduce him to the wonders of the outdoors (Believe it or not, at one time before becoming a teenager, his life didn’t actually revolve around video games and pissing us off…well, not too much anyway.)
I buy us boogie boards.
Who doesn’t love boogie boards at the beach, right? They’re perfect for fat bastards like me, who couldn’t stand up on a surf board on dry land, let alone the water, and kids love ‘em. So, Brandon and I head out into the waves and have a blast. We’re laughing and joking, and unfortunately for Brandon, drifting further and further out.
Noticing just how far out we are, I take it as a great opportunity for a conversation about sharks. Big sharks. And how these big sharks think people look like seals when they’re floating around on boogie boards (payback for pissing me off, of course.) Well, Brandon doesn’t like this one bit, and not being a very good swimmer, decides he’s gonna leave me alone, looking like a seal, to fend off the big sharks by myself. The only problem is, is that when he slides off the boogie board and tries to walk back to shore, he realizes he’s in over his head. Literally. So, he flops his gangly self back on the board and starts freaking out…
“Tom, T-T-T-TOM! HELP, HELP! I THINK I SAW A SHARK. HELLLLLPPP!”
Hee, hee, hee…
“TOM, SERIOUSLY!!! AUGHHHH! I FELT SOMETHING ON MY FOOT! I. FELT. SOMETHING. ON MY FOOT!!!!!!!”
Bet it wasn’t the bottom, was it…
What he didn’t realize is that the more he was flopping around and causing such a big deal, he was floating even further out…away from me. I quickly pointed this out to him.
It was right about this time that all the stuff Brandon had done over the years to piss me off, flashed before my eyes. I thought to myself…
I could just let this little jerk float to Cuba and let them deal with him.
I told him what I was thinking.
About this time, I look back and notice that we’ve got ourselves a little audience on the beach, including the Beach Patrol, so I figure I’d better reel Gilligan, er…Brandon, back in. I swim over and grab the string on his boogie board and start pulling him back towards shore when this gigantic shark pushes it’s head out of the water and chomps it’s razor toothed jaws down on the spot where we just were!
Yeah, just messin’ with you there about the shark thing.
Anyway, I pull him in, listening to him whimper and whine the whole way until I finally let him and the board go about 15 feet from shore, and you guessed it, Brandon the Brave starts freaking out again. That is until I tell him to shut his pie hole, put his feet down, and walk back to shore.
Aside from the fact, I thought the whole thing was hysterical, I think Brandon and I both learned some very valuable lessons. Even though he’s a teenager now, he’s realized that he still needs me and knows that no matter what, I’ll be there for him. I think he actually appreciates me a little more now. I’d like to say that the whole experience made him shape up with his chores and homework, but not really, although all I have to do now is remind him that I could’ve left him for shark bait and that makes him at least try a little harder.
As for me, the whole experience reinforced that even though he’s not my flesh and blood, I still love him as my own. And I actually need him in my life, as well. He keeps me on my toes. Even though he pisses me off sometimes, I still have to guide him and protect him, especially now, through his teenage years, because there are a lot of sharks out there.
This post originally published on the Life of Dad website (lifeofdad.com) by Tom Ciomcia (Daddy Anarchy)