It was a busy weekend, so here’s a tale from 10 years ago.
By DAVID GREEN
“Pick me up, Dad!”
I’ve heard that request dozens of times over the last dozen years, but I don’t hear it so much anymore. At 15, Ben doesn’t ask to leave the ground anymore, at least not in my arms. Ridiculous. He’s as big as I am. Of course I still do lift him up every now and then, but it’s more of a rough-house maneuver as I try to heft his weight.
Rosanna, catching up to Ben at age 11, doesn’t make the request anymore either, but she gets an occasional lift anyway. Maddy, 9, still wants to go up. Her style isn’t so much to ask with her voice, but rather to stand there in front of me with her arms out. The message is obvious.
I remember when both the girls would get me at the same time when I came home from work. One on each hip or one on the front and one on the back. It was probably the beginning of the end, when my pick-up abilities were slowly debilitated.
Ben was the luckiest of the three kids as far as pick-me-ups are concerned. He had his father at his youngest, when it was nothing to hoist a kid onto the shoulders and walk around for extended periods. Ben would start in front, climb around to the back, then work his way up to the neck. All of this with only minor damage done to the carrier down below.
Maddy wants that ride too, but her dad usually ends up with a sore neck. The back ride is fine for a while, but the shoulder ride—now that’s a rare treat.
Ah, the shoulders. It’s the king of rides. I should submit to hypnotism to really bring back the sensation, but there’s still some memory there. I can remember part of the thrill even after four decades.
I‘m standing in front of my father with my back toward him. He bends over, puts his hands under my arms and—whoosh!—I’m lifted into the air, up over his head and placed onto the shoulders.
Whoa! It’s so high. I‘m almost up to the ceiling. I grab to hold on, and my hands slap on to the nearest holding place—right across his eyes. I try another hold but now I’m choking him.
OK, we’re settled and it’s time to move. This must be like riding an elephant or a camel. Perched high, dipping back and forth with every step. First one wall, then another, rushes in close with every footfall. Everything moves so fast when you’re perched at the top. Then—Bang! Ouch! You’ve got to dip for the doorways.
Now he’s twirling around a little and the room is rushing by. There’s no control. What looks normal on foot is completely different from five feet up in the air. The cabinets whoosh by quicker. The window is a flash of light with every spin. It’s frightening and it’s wonderful.
But all of this is just a warm-up. Only the preliminaries for what’s to come.
He’s walking across the room, everything is fine, I start to relax, but now he’s stumbling! He’s going to fall and I’m going to crash to the floor. I scream and tighten my grip and I’m choking him again.
He recovers in time and everything’s all right. He probably stepped on a toy. But there he goes again, tripping and threatening to fall. We’re sure to crash, but I soon see it’s all part of his act. Over and over he stumbles and dips toward the floor.
And so it went, a journey around the house to match any carnival ride, all while perched on my father’s shoulders.
I’ve got to go find Maddy. She’s growing tall but she’s skinny. I can still handle it. That kid is going for a ride.