I wounded my Pony, helping my girls

Rocks rattled and clacked under a big black plastic square attached to a mobile basketball hoop that I was dragging.  February in Colorado offers varied weather on a whim.  Today, there was no need for coats, and the air was still.  My oldest daughter joined her first basketball team this year.  She and her third grade buddies seem to be enjoying it.  They are 1-1.  At the last game you would have thought it was a NBA playoff.  8-9 final score, it was one of the best games I have ever been to.  Yeah, I am that dad.  I have a voice loud as thunder, I am 6’4″ (194 cm) tall, and love my daughters with a vibrant energy.  I love them so much, daily, it makes my heart tremble.

Since I do shift work, I get weekends and weekdays mixed up.  I say things like, “This is my Saturday,” even though for the rest of the world it is Monday.  I made the mistake of telling my middle daughter that we would hit the local gym to shoot some hoops on Monday night, because I thought it was Saturday.  I drive into Denver on Monday’s for college.  My middle daughter wants to play basketball too, and she was heart broken.  She was about to cry and I saw her face crumple and her lips tremble.

I sat her down, and told her I was sorry, and that I would set up our hoop at home, in the garage so that they could shoot around even if its cold outside.  When I drug the basketball stand from the back yard to the garage, it didn’t fit by a matter of inches (many cm’s).  So I decided I would put it out at the end of the driveway.  I had pulled my beautiful black pony (Mustang) out of the garage and I had it parked on the street.  I drug the basketball goal out of the garage, and set it at the base of our sloped driveway, to survey some rocks I would have to move to anchor the goal.  In that moment, the mountain air picked up, and the mast of the top heavy basketball goal, began to tremble.

Many years of my adult life has been spent working in industry.  Safety is drilled into my brain.  The statement of “If it falls, don’t try and catch it!”  This applies to “T” heads on industrial printers, carts of glass sheets, motors on hoists, and super sacs on forklifts.  The basketball goal began to fall right behind me.  Like a mighty tree, whose roots has let loose their tight grip of the earth.  I saw it out of the corner of my eye.  It was headed right for my mustang.  All I could do was, say, “No, no…”  It hit my hood in a crash, and slid off the front of the car.  My fists began to tremble.


I went into the house, feeling angry and stupid.  I knew, I just knew, if I made a big deal about this, I would sour my girls hearts about anything and everything basketball.  I love my girls more, much more than my car.  I went to find my wife, she helps a lot in these moments.  When I found her, I said, “Guess what the basketball goal fell on?”  She quickly responded, “Are you ok!?!”  I said, “No, not me, it fell on my car.”  More fear gripped her face, as if to imply, ‘if it hits my husband, he can take a hit.  If it hit his car, there is going to be trouble’.  She quickly said, “Oh no!”  I said, “Don’t worry, I really want the girls to have fun ‘Hoopin’ it up’.  Everything will be ok.  Her warm smile began to tremble.

When my girls got home from school, they dropped their backpacks and ran outside to start shooting around in the street.  New girls sized basketballs, one with pink stripes and the other with blue stripes.  A new net, and an anchored basketball hoop.  I looked at the scarred hood of my sports car.  I felt like Mad Max, with a chewed up black V8 interceptor.  I was the conquering daddy.  The wasteland of disappointment and anger, was conquered.  I watched my girls laughing and shooting baskets, my dark mood lost its hold of my heart.  The trembling of the day, was gone.


Copyright © 2017 Zachary W Gilbert

Dear Daughter…


Dear Daughter,

I can’t believe you are nine years old now.  I still remember when you were born and fit on my forearm.  We had a 2004 black Nissan Sentra, it was loaded with diaper bags, a pink car seat, and an excited mom and dad.  I think I spent six month painting your powder pink room, with lady bugs and castles on the wall, and a dark blue sky with a cartoon sun on the ceiling.  I had to repaint the clouds twice, just to get them perfect.  It was all for you.  I love watching you grow up.  I cherish each moment, each phase, and you.  You will always be my sweetheart, and I love you.  I feel like I have let you down countless times, but I will continue to talk you though my mistakes, as well as yours.  I love you too much not to.  I see you worry about my approval, but please don’t.  I am always on your team, and on your side.  I thank God everyday, that he put you in my life.  I will forever strive to keep your momma happy and loved so that you can feel safe everyday, and not have to worry about your parents.  It breaks my heart every time you cry.  I want you to know that I am willing to help you dry your tears, anytime.

We are going to have to talk about boys soon, and to be honest, I am terrified.  I think, silver hair is in my immediate future.  I know you have a buddy at school, but I know, things are going to get weird in a few years, if they aren’t already.  I think I may use your 2 year old brother as an example.  How he loves cars, stands up and cheers for anything starwars, and his vocabulary is half sound effects.  He is likely to never think about, or plan anything about his wedding.  Boys aren’t wrong, they are just so very different.  I want you to hear it from me first.  We will go on a date.  We will talk.  My silence, is not ok.  God gave you an extroverted, chatty dad.  Don’t worry, I am going to keep this date appropriate to your age.  I just want to build a foundation, for you to be able to ask your dad about boys, and life.  I think we are going to be ok.  I know I often say, “You are the practice kid.”  All that means, Sweetheart is that mom and I are constantly learning how to be parents with you.  Mom and I both were ‘first born’ so we understand your frustration.

So, what do you think?  Can I take my sweet girl, in the powder pink shirt, out on a date?  Just me and you.  We will load up in the 2015 black Mustang.  You can sing Taylor Swift, or Katy Perry at the top of your lungs.   I will tell some silly daddy jokes.  I love the way you laugh.  Sweetheart,  I am sorry I cry a little, every time you talk about getting married.  I take a deep breath, and sigh, and only lose one or two tears.  You put your hand on top of mine and say, “Don’t worry daddy, everything is going to be ok.”  I couldn’t agree more.


Copyright © 2017 Zachary W Gilbert