Ever heard of the 50-50-90 rule? Any time you have a 50/50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90 percent probability you’ll get it wrong. And get it wrong I did — over and over.
We have been encouraging our oldest son to try skiing this summer. He is extremely cautious when it comes to water, and hadn’t shown much interest in trying a new activity — tubing or using his trainer skis seemed to be enough. I can see myself in him as he hesitates to try anything new — especially when it isn’t possible to try it out in private first. Nothing worse than test driving a new piece of machinery with half a dozen eyes on you — just waiting for a really stupid mistake. So when he asked to try kneeboarding alone (not behind the boat), I understood.
One day early this summer, I was given the opportunity to wakesurf, a sport I have never tried and have only watched a handful of times. Now you already know that I don’t enjoy learning something new in front of people, but I also hate getting in the water. Don’t misunderstand — I love water and water activities — but getting in is the worst part about them. Unless you are scuba diving in the tropics, the water is chilly and cold. And did I mention it isn’t very warm? Even in 100 degree weather, I am wearing a wet suit — I’ll take the teasing over the cold any day!
I looked at the surfboard. Half of me wanted to try, the other half said I was crazy for even thinking about trying something new in front of a boat full of spectators. I was waffling. Then I saw my son. I decided that if I expected him to learn new things, I could at least attempt to be an example. And an example I made too — of what not to do!
I suited up, and pushed off the back of the boat with an unfamiliar board and a ski rope. I listened carefully to the instructions, moving the board where it belonged and holding the rope just right. “OK!” I nodded to the driver.
I learned to ski when I was 10 years old, and consider myself moderately water-athletic — I got this.
Well, what I got was a nose full of water while the board shot up over my head and landed 10 feet away. The boat pulled around again. I pushed my wet hair out of my face as I repositioned the board.
“When you feel pressure on the board, just push your knees up, then hop up onto your feet.”
I nodded to the driver. I felt pressure on the board... I got my knees on it... then my right foot... then my left — a mouth full of water.
Again, pressure, knees, right foot, left — crash.
Over and over and over.
I crashed forwards, backwards, sideways. I drank water, snorted water, coughed water — everything but getting up on the water. I’m not sure how long I was out there — but I know it was long enough I didn’t have to worry about hydrating the rest of the day! After a particularly painful crash, I laid my feet up on the board while the rest of me floated in the water.
“Hey, why don’t you try it like that?”
Sure, why not? I thought, it can’t hurt any worse — and that’s when I got up. Within minutes I knew this was going to be one of my new favorite water activities. Give a girl a surfboard, and you’ve distracted her for a day. Teach a girl to surf, and suddenly work becomes the distraction! I have never tried to get my swathing done as quick as this year. Get it done, catch that wave!
As the summer progressed, the same friends started encouraging my son to try surfing. He generally just ignored their attempts at getting him on that board. One day, however, he seemed less reluctant than usual. He still didn’t want to surf, but he asked to play with the board in the water. Soon someone threw him the rope and we started pulling him slowly through the water. He used it as a kneeboard for a bit, that he laid back down and motioned for the boat to stop. He said he wanted to try standing up. Two attempts and he was standing on top of the water. I was one seriously proud momma!
Later that day, my husband, who has never skied or wakeboarded, announced that he wanted to try as well.
“If at first you don’t succeed, we have a lot in common.” I smirked at him.
I was happy to see him try, yet getting the camera out to capture some epic crashes. He got the same instructions I had earlier this summer. They tossed him the rope... he hollered “hit it”... the boat took off... my finger poised on the camera — and he got up. The first try! My first reaction was shouting hurray — followed by a close second of “I was in the water how long?”
“Sometimes it’s not about how good you are, but how bad you want it,” he smirked.
I set down my camera and picked up my soda. I guess he’d never heard of the 50-50-90 rule. I wonder if he heard about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda? He was lucky it was a soft drink.
Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.