The Boy

Dan Dobbin picture
Dan Dobbin (dandob)
Swellnet Dispatch

The boy sits on the beach.

He's deep in the adolescent infatuation of surfing; a grom-junkie for the risk and reward responses that riding waves so freely offers. 

Conditions are perfect. A thick, long-lined east swell groomed by all day westerly winds. Perfect, perfect, perfect, except for the size, which is well beyond what he's experienced before, well out of his comfort zone and, well, frankly he's frozen with fear.

Wetsuit on, board at the ready. Inside a silent calamitous cacophony of nervous energy popping and fizzing and surging and rolling. 

On the outside he's inert. Eyes transfixed on the horizon, as though by staring down the incoming lumps of ocean swell he can make them less frightening, less intimidating. As though by staring he can manifest a mental teleportation from shore line to lineup. Skip the terrifying in between.

All that he wants, desires, requires is just there. It's all right there.

The only thing he need do is to act, to paddle out. 

Yet still he sits and stares. 

From the lineup the father stares back. The connection across distance and time. 

He's sat where the boy sits. He knows what the boy feels. He felt it too, long ago. The titanic struggle between the desire to surf tempered by the inertia of fear.

He knows there's nothing he can do for the boy, that the boy has to do this on his own, has to find his own courage.

And so the father catches waves, and in between he catches glimpses of the boy, still sitting, still stoically vacillating on the sand. 

Until he's gone.

The father's eyes search the track up the dunes, search the headland for the boy's defeated form, but it's not there.

Instead it's on its way through the shorebreak, paddling with frantic purpose. 

On the open beachbreak the peaks unload onto the shallow sandbank, spent swells spilling off its back and flooding into the inshore gutter, the inflowing current an obstacle that slows the boy's progress as he approaches lineup.

One final hurdle to defeat. One final effort.

Using all of that adrenalised energy, the boy sprint paddles and breaches the bank during a lull in the sets. He glides to a stop next to the father.

The father smiles at the boy.

"Shitting yourself?"

"Yep."

"Thought so. You'll be right, you've done the hard part now."

"It's so big!"

"Yeah, it's solid. Whaddaya say we get ya' into one?"

"Can I just catch my breath for a minute?"

"Yeah mate, whenever you're ready..."

// DAN DOBBIN

Comments

Stef_Olly's picture
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Stef_Olly Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 10:15am

Love this Dan mate, as the father of a 3 year old micro grom I really hope I get to experience the same thing with him in the coming years!

freesurfer1977's picture
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freesurfer1977 Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 10:45am

Father of 2 boys, I also couldn't wait and hoped to experience my kids fall in love with an unbreakable bond with the ocean. Their 12 ,and 18 now with surfing the last thing on their minds. It's almost killed me inside,as surfing has taken me around the world, culture,new friends, 7 seasons snowboarding the best mountains the earth has to offer.
Genetics comes to mind. Just trying to say it hurts not being able to share even one day of the year in a line up with my offspring. Truly hope you get to experience what's in your surfing heart with your kid/s

stunet's picture
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stunet Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 11:01am

Father of three boys here, not as old as yours yet similarly indifferent.

It kills me that they're growing up in a location I would've given my left nut for as a grom, and everything's there for the taking: shed full of boards, lessons at the ready, days off school if they really want it.

I'm holding out the keys to the city and they don't want them.

Ben Elvy's picture
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Ben Elvy Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 11:40am

Despite also growing them up in a location I would have given a nut for myself, mine were similarly indifferent until a couple of years back. Now they're not so much "little frothers" but more mature and considered - competent and confident - but surfing how they want on their terms.

I had to bite my tongue a number of times when they were young. Now it's a joy to get a few with them (when they let me!)

freesurfer1977's picture
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freesurfer1977 Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 11:55am

Same M8, it's like a mirror to me. Brand new boards, wetsuits jet skis, motorbikes all just dust gatherers.
I never thought I'd need a psychologist,ever in my life!! But it's taken it's toll. From someone that never missed a swell,to lost count after a couple hundred events. I know what people are going to think BOO HOO!! But it was top of my list to have a family and share my love and knowledge of the world and ocean to my kids.
It wasn't passed down to me, I found a board in 5 foot of grass without a fin. Saved up and got a fin put in that resembled winning keel of the America's cup. Sock and rope for a leg rope, and I was hooked from day dot.
I thought I was the only surfing father in the world experiencing this. I feel your hurt Stu, sucks to say but it kinda helps to know I,m not alone. If I had enemies,I wouldn't wish it upon them.

billie's picture
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billie Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:29pm

Hahaha! Surfing is like being in prison anyway. I can't fucken escape it. I get released but sabotage my way back in. I kinda wish I wasn't a surfer. Actually, I wish I could feel this good after playing golf, or walking with my wife holding hands. But dammit, nothing makes me feel this good.

Queef Jerky's picture
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Queef Jerky Saturday, 25 Jun 2022 at 9:40pm

by that time I got into booging, also annoy my father....
It was rocking some slab shelfs easy enough to catch the train to Newie
By the time he actually took me to Catho on weekends, he scored a solid slab 20s wave. Not in the same sentence.... Champ

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 10:29am

Beautiful. Witnessed this myself, only he paddled so fast he beat me out in a lull!

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 10:34am

Nice contribution, Dan. My lad is only 2 but already very hot on the “1 more!”

flow's picture
flow's picture
flow Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 11:13am

Same here Stu. 1 boy. 21 now but never enjoyed it. I used to push him into a few on his foam board when he way 7 or 8 but refused a year or so later. Sometimes I'd just take him for a swim in a rock pool. I'd say how good it felt just being in the salt water. He'd respond by saying he felt like he was in a foreign environment....

Beats's picture
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Beats Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 11:40am

Yep - my 13 year old loved the ocean till he was about 9, was attacked by some rogue seaweed in the shorey and has not been in the ocean since. As difficult as it was for me, respecting his decision and letting him know I am OK with it I think was much better than continuing to "encourage" him to get out there.

Bungan33's picture
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Bungan33 Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 12:02pm

Dan.....you just made me cry - you bastard.

Walk around G's picture
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Walk around G Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 1:15pm

Thanks for visualisation Dan but not my experience unfortunately. I have 2 kids, a 12yo girl and 10yo boy, neither are interested in surfing, well anything more than a body bash in the shorey when it's hot. I move from the city to chase my dreams of surfing, hanging at the beach and hoped that they'd be frother's too but alas, no cigar. My boy got into MX and at least I do it with him and we've bonded over that but I sacrifice my surfing to spend time doing that with him mostly these days. Strange though, I thought I'd miss surfing so much but with us riding mx together my priorities have changed and I found being with him, sharing a passion for something has become more rewarding than my old selfish pursuit of the perfect wave. Life takes many twists and turns but going with the flow and enjoying all of life's little quirks make it interesting.

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MrBungle Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 1:15pm

Nice one Dan.

Robwilliams's picture
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Robwilliams Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 1:34pm

Plus one. Dan. Nice Surfing Reflections. Your Churchill history piece was interesting to.
Swellnet is covering fact and fiction from many viewpoints Whilst also being one of the main players at expressing all things related to surfing. Keep it up.

Denyer's picture
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Denyer Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 1:38pm

Two sons for me - 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. The older one is still not that interested and I know it's a bad thing to push them into it.

I'm fortunate to have a wife that surfs.

Our strategy is to take them to remote indo (when they're a bit older) for weeks on end and basically give them no other choice of entertainment.

Thoughts on this strategy?

reecen's picture
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reecen Friday, 24 Jun 2022 at 12:54am

Good strategy! My wife surfs and we have three boys.
All holidays revolve around surfing and the water and they are all mad keen on it. Couple of lulls in confidence at varying ages but they don’t want to get left on the beach or sitting in a tinny by themselves. They all ended up finding the nerve to paddle out.
Happy days!

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 1:51pm

It won't appeal to every young one. But we are all different souls. I've read the above from Stu and freesurfer and others, and I'll add while one son got into it, one has not embraced it. Being able to express other interests or hobbies and share them with a child is also a great feeling, but again it may not happen. I reflect that I shared none of my father's interests (horses, the track, pub sports, golf) until I realised my love of old boards parallels his love of antiques. My own brother was similar in interest to Dad, was interested / a wizard at all of those sports. Dad didn't seem to mind, he supported every crazy idea I had, like asking for the shed to build boards in!

My boys have had snowboarding together, that was their happy place away from us blue/green slope 'blue-bies' parents. Digging each other out of streams on the forested side of the 'wall of death'... going off mountain in BC... Stu did a beautiful piece of prose where he outlined by going to the kids' own MTB tracks, he felt like he was imposing on the world they created and was theirs... They have their own worlds, and so they should. That treeline stuff, my boys can keep!

I'm really looking forward to seeing my eldest again (another state now) and on his break teaching him how to CNC terrain for hobby gaming. Perhaps we can pull a relief map of the Rockies or Himalayas and etch it in pine, then paint the thing! Different interests.

Next point: many young people are taking up surfing in their 20s, on their terms, with their friends, and buying a longboard. The initial ease of access is probably a reason, as are the hire boards they experience in lessons which are often part of the schooling PE program. I'd think they don't have any prior surfing influence in their families.

Regarding living in an area with dreamy waves, mentioned above (and we do): I took my surfing son back to where I began, the close-outey beachies north of Scabs, and we had a head high session in a backwashy shorebreaking closeout. He got smashed. And he seemed to froth on it. At the end of the session he said to me, "You know, that was really fun, the backwash was crazy, but I'm really glad I've grown up where I have."

One further point: the emphasis in surfing presently is all girls. Where's the support and encouragement for boys? Within families? Within peer groups? Where's a surfing Steve Biddulph? A surfing Robert Bly?

Vince Neil's picture
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Vince Neil Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 2:44pm

Keys to the city indeed!
Some really good points made.
You can lead a horse to water... You can also kill the vibe by being overly enthusiastic / trying to live vicariously through them
I just hope my 2 boys find their passion, whatever that is.

Vince Neil's picture
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Vince Neil Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 2:47pm

Denyer - could be a good strategy, but also give them opportunity to snorkel, play in rock pools, whatevs.

You need to bear in mind Dad isnt necessarily cool and being shown up by him at his favourite hobby isn't necessarily fun.

Denyer's picture
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Denyer Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 6:18pm

You make two fair points!

One can only dream of the picture this story paints. Fingers crossed.

Standingleft's picture
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Standingleft Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 2:48pm

Nice mate. Treasure that moment, so cool. My two oldest love the beach but didn't take up surfing although they're asking to have another go in their 20's. Youngest has a couple of mates who are into it so that helps and we all got some great sessions together over the first winter lockdown when the beaches pumped and footy was off. Good times I'll never forget, he started to get the hang of it too before this cruel Vic swell drought arrived.
Despite every warning the boys 7 years apart took up cricket early and I was club secretary for 9 years, sitting there doing scorebooks every Saturday, uurg, but with their local country team mates had some great times too. They mastered cricket, something I never did, was good to watch but yes, fathering takes some sacrifice no doubt.
I admire surf families. Takes a lot of persistence to get them up and riding especially in cold waters (a handy beginners set-up helps too).
Chilled surf dads seem to have pretty good relations with their frothers, forever. That's rewarding.

Dx3's picture
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Dx3 Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 3:07pm

Loved this, great read. 2 boys for me, both yet to hit school age. My dream is to spend endless days chasing waves with them in years to come, but conscious it may not work out that way. At least they do love the beach and excitedly run into the garage every time I get back to ask me how the waves were.
Even footy which I frothed on growing up, eldest not showing any interest yet, youngest is. Won't push them either way, but as I said, will continue to dream about surf trips with them and at worst, some sort of shared interest we can get involved together in.

Hoodie's picture
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Hoodie Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 4:14pm

I still remember the the day my now 21 year old paddled up to me after finally making it out. I was so proud of him, and still am.
Now it is me shitting myself on the beach wishing I was a younger man.
Enjoy it all. It is a wonderful life.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 4:49pm

My dad got me into surfing (sorta). He surfed a bit before I was born but on beach holidays, he loved body surfing. One of my earliest memories was him pushing me into little waves at Currumbin on my Amoco surf mat and him body surfing alongside me. He loved the water, as I do now, fishing, swimming or just having it close by. He was a great dad.

I have two stepsons by default and because of the language barrier and cultural differences, I have never been anything more than an ATM to them. But I've made my peace with that, I wouldn't like my mum shacking up with a short-tempered Japanese flog either. They're older now and hopefully they will find their own path.

My wife and I have tried a few times to have kids of our own but we haven't been blessed in that regard and I suppose you could say, one of the biggest regrets in my life is that I'll never be a father. It's just how life pans out I suppose. I don't beat myself up too much but in a way it eats at me a little and for two reasons- first, I think I would have really enjoyed it and second, I reckon I would have done alright. I had a pretty good teacher.

Nice story Dan.

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:05pm

Respect, Zen. I gather you’re gaijin?

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:57pm

And some Clivus.

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:19pm

Ha, wakarimashita. I can imagine that adds a layer of complexity. Respected your honesty and that of others on this thread. Nice to see. Hope the rainy season stops for you soon and there’s plenty of swell on the way during the warmer months

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:25pm

Yep agree with Clivus, much respect Zen :)

Rolysea's picture
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Rolysea Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 5:28pm

I have always just let surfing be my thing, if the kids wanted to have a go then i've enthusiastically assisted. Would be great if they did end up loving it, however you obviously cant force it. They need to find their own "thing". I don't really mind, I just hope they have something ie sport or hobby that gives them that passion for living.

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Island Bay Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 5:41pm

As someone whose parents divorced when I was 6yo, it seems unbelievable to not want to do things with your dad. Even when he was around all the time I was dead keen to go fishing, skiing, hiking, whatever.

But everyone is different, and these are different times.

overthefalls's picture
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overthefalls Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 5:56pm

I can’t help but envy you, Dan. Savour every moment of it, mate. Your story is very relatable and brings back fond memories. The best years of my life were when my three kids would wake me up before dawn to take them surfing, but those days are long gone now. Only one still occasionally surfs, but she’s already left home, and the other two have their own interests, which is a pity because they used to be mad-keen surfers. It’s hard to accept but your kids grow up, become their own people and do their own thing. As long as they’re happy, then I’m happy!

blackers's picture
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blackers Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 6:33pm

Great writing Dan, and thoughtful feedback in the posts. My youngest is 18, never really got hooked but goes off now and again with his mates. Being able to drive gives him opportunity, a shed full of boards and wetties are there if he wants. I still hold onto some hope we will share the joy together in the future, but if not I can watch him play footy instead and share a beer afterwards. Could be worse.

AndyM's picture
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AndyM Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 6:46pm

No father or even father figure in my life growing up.
Just a mum who through both choice and economic necessity got my sister and I into the good stuff - surfing, snorkeling, camping, bushwalking.
Without the influences from this one person, the memories I hold most dear wouldn’t exist.
Onya mum.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:47pm

Same circumstance as me.

Now I have a 3 year old boy who loves asking how the surf was, waxing up my board for me (fins, nose, tail… wherever he decides haha) and reckons when he’s 4 and a big boy he’ll come surfing with me.

If it pans out that way it’ll be the best thing ever, if not well as long as he’s happy and healthy I’m fine with that to.

Solitude's picture
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Solitude Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:21pm

Mate your most of the way there. Sacrifice your own surf time. Push him him lots. Find those magic clean tiny days and he’ll be hooked!

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Island Bay Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 4:46am

Made me laugh enough to startle the old Vizsla :-)

Good on you, goofyfoot. Best of luck.

To everyone here, appreciate your story and honesty (here's looking at you, Zen). Life serves up all kinds of opportunities and obstacles and joy and shit. Best we can do is to act with integrity, love and honesty.

andy-mac's picture
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andy-mac Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:00pm

Great read ...
I have a daughter who I have pushed into some waves and she seems to find standing up easy . Trying not to push her as don't want to put her off, but jeez I hope I get to go surfing with her as she grows.... Each has to follow their own path I guess....

andy-mac's picture
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andy-mac Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:00pm

Great read ...
I have a daughter who I have pushed into some waves and she seems to find standing up easy . Trying not to push her as don't want to put her off, but jeez I hope I get to go surfing with her as she grows.... Each has to follow their own path I guess....

Finnbob the terror's picture
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Finnbob the terror Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:02pm

Great read,
As a Dad who surfs you diffidently get excited at the prospect of surfing with your kids. My eldest son is now 16 and surfs as often as he can, he tends to surf mostly with me, sometimes with his mates but tries to avoid the crowds. I get more excited than he does and I will surf in much worse conditions than he will. Where we live is not the easiest place for kids to surf, cold and no easy beaches to flounder around on at a young age. Takes patients and time to get a kid in the water. I have 6 kids in total, 5 boys, and 1 girl. The eldest is 16 the youngest two are 3. My daughter showed a little interest at a young age but was very hands-on and soon lost the bug, loves the occasional shore bash at 14. My 11-year-old son showed some promise but seems to be more of a team sports kind of a kid, I must admit I never thought I would enjoy watching a game of football, but now I look forward to that as much as a surf. I still have my fingers crossed that he will get the bug but I'm not holding my breath, my 6-year son is keen and already asking to go surfing a lot, so I'll have to wait and see how that pans out, as for the 3-year- old identical twin boys. Who knows? At the moment I get pretty pumped when they fall asleep before 8 pm. What I now realize is you can only lead a horse to water after that it's out of your control.

RockyIsland's picture
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RockyIsland Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:09pm

Wow similar stories to mine. Grew up in Melbourne outer suburbs from 14 was hitching to the rock with boards in sleeping bags as cover and $20.00 in the pocket. Used to sleep under vacant caravans to stretch the dollars out eat all weekend and sneak into the pub until we got kicked out.
Then licences finally got a job down there it was like winning tattslotto.
Raised a family right on the beach in a fully asbestos square box thats now worth a million to the ex.
Spent a decade up the snow with the kids living the full influencer lifestyle before anyone was actually influenced (hate social media) Kids grew up surfing both won some trophies to put on the shelf in their bedrooms. Daughter got dumped bad at an inappropriate break my Ex's surfing mums group (way before that was a thing too )took them too and that was the end of her interest in surfing.
Son ended up 3rd in an Vic title as a jnr but then got in with a bunch of guys (whose dads all surfed) who were into downhill skateboarding. He gave up surfing but now in his late 20s with a young family and working in the suburb I spent my early life trying to escape from (the irony) he really appreciates the odd session we have together and is looking forward to more as his kids get older. He can't wait to push his young daughter into the many micro grom setups I took him to in the region. The circle of life.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:36pm

That's an awesome ending, new chapter.

Did rockpools and beachcombing heaps with the kids when young, and identified those micro grom setups on the tides - kids were completely familiar when the surfing was introduced, knew where every rock/sandpatch was. Was so much fun right from the start. Still is, we'll still go rockpool walking sometimes if we have time.

My young one who did take surfing up, the nature was the attraction: nature, power, animals. The idea of boardriders/comps wasn't an influence, or what pros were doing etc. It was more like "Will we see a sealion again?" "Can I go further out than anyone else?"

Bnkref's picture
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Bnkref Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:26pm

Great story Dan and have enjoyed reading the posts above.

I don't have any kids but was recently in the Ments and got a lot of froth out of seeing a Dad on the trip surfing with his 9 year old daughter. Her first trip to the Ments and you could see her improving in confidence each day and doing really well. Everyone on our trip was looking out for her, calling her into waves etc. If I ever have kids one day, I'd love to be able to do that with a son or daughter in years to come.

Also was chatting to a young Hawaiian girl that was out at a heavier spot. She was only 7 and said her favourite wave was Bankvaults! Amazing what some of these kids can do.

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:24pm

Love this, Bknref

Standingleft's picture
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Standingleft Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 7:36pm

Wow, what a crew, so proud of you guys (&girls) group hug
Good communicators make good fathers

Dowey's picture
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Dowey Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:38pm

Memories,
Just joined up to post this as Dan you brought a great big smile, happy and a sad tear to my eye.
I too went through exactly this, son started on the body board then progressed to stand up and we just loved surfing, mountain biking and even worked together.
Remember sitting out the back and clear in my mind still now is his face paddling out for the first time at our local, short steep and fast as usual.
Eyes as big as a full moon and after a couple of hesitations and with the boys pushing he nabbed his first, hard and fast straight to the bottom for a hell of a thrashing.
Finally surfaced for the biggest breath with all a hooting and hollering, paddled back beside me for a bit of reassurance gather steam and off he went on a couple of smaller ones, didn't get sucked in by the crew again.
Then last year in May and at 21yrs old we had a fun surf with lots of our friends in the morning and that afternoon he decided to say goodbye to this life, don't know why and can only guess the pain he must have been in.
Just not the same anymore throwing the gear in the car by myself but still push it.
To everyone, join in and enjoy whatever passion your loved ones family or other enjoy, it will make their day, week, year or life.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:52pm

Jeez that’s full on dowey, sorry for your loss.

Clivus Multrum's picture
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Clivus Multrum Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 8:57pm

Sorry for your loss, Dowey. Very touching post. Cherish those memories and thanks for sharing those particularly wise words in the final para

Bnkref's picture
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Bnkref Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 9:12pm

Oh that's really tough, Dowey. Sorry to hear. Hope those special memories get you through the hard times.

surfiebum's picture
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surfiebum Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 9:06pm

Sorry for your loss Dowey, that's devastating

Standingleft's picture
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Standingleft Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 9:56pm

Think you've got us all saying prayers Dowey

Dx3's picture
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Dx3 Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 10:07pm

I’m so sorry for your loss Dowey, that’s really heavy. What a beautiful memory of your son you’ve shared with us, thank you.

dandob's picture
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dandob Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 11:17pm

Oh man Dowey, I'm so sorry. I can tell from the thoughtful way you've communicated this that you're a great father. I'm sure we'll all hold our kids a little closer tonight knowing how precious our time with them is.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 4:48am

So sorry for your loss, Dowey.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 7:51am

I'm really sorry to hear of your loss, Dowey. All the best mate.

andy-mac's picture
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andy-mac Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 9:12am

Sincere condolences. Sorry for your loss mate.
Take care...

Bungan33's picture
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Bungan33 Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 9:17am

That is heart breaking Dowey. I can't even begin to imagine the pain. So much of this world is not in our control and so much goes unseen - especially in young people. I'm really sorry.

Stef_Olly's picture
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Stef_Olly Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 9:25am

Ahhhh Dowey, so sorry to read this and for your loss mate, take care

Dan87's picture
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Dan87 Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 8:07pm

So sorry for your loss Dowey! Takes a lot of strength to speak about it like that. Here's to your son.

reecen's picture
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reecen Friday, 24 Jun 2022 at 1:14am

Hope your doing alright since your loss. Can’t imagine your heartbreak.
I have three boys all starting to grow up and getting into their teens. Unfortunately this type of story is always in the back of my mind.
I imagine the world can be a really tough place for a young bloke these days.
Love to your family.

flow's picture
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flow Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 9:05pm

From what you've posted over time Zen I'm sure you would be a great dad.

flow's picture
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flow Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 9:09pm

Sorry to hear that Dowey. I hope you've got good friends around you. Glad you have good memories of your son.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 at 10:07pm

Fuck Dowey, that is heartwrenching. I'm writing this through tears.

I hope your lad is at peace and I really hope one day you find yours.

All the very best to you.

mattlock's picture
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mattlock Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 12:56am

Dowey mate.
My heart goes out to you.
Hug your kids everyone.
I'm going to go and watch mine sleep for a bit.

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freeride76 Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 5:16am

Absolutely heartbreaking Dowey.
No words, just all the best to you and your family.

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 8:18am

Oh man such amazing commentary and sharing here. Great article as well Dan, but Zen, you would have been an epic Dad and Dowey, lots of love mate, tough to read.

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simba Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 8:52am

Life throws some curved balls especially when you least expect them........all the best Dowey

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Bungan33 Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 9:19am

Far out....what a thread......makes you want to archive it and print it out. Too many stories and too much life.

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spaceman Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 10:27am

Great read! Awesome feeling when you can share waves with the kids.

I have three minions - 9yo Girl, 12yo Boy and 15yo ManBoy - they all love the water in different ways. Live 200m from the water - very lucky.

The kids drift in and out of surfing (mostly summer), skating, footy, basketball, etc. I only encourage the diversity.

At the moment they are - 9yo loves the boat and fishing, 12yo obsessed with footy but he is my surfing buddy, and the 15yo a tidy mountainbiker - "tidy" definition - I can't keep up with him on the ground or in the air! Little punk!

My assumption is they will all come back to surfing over their lives! Food for the soul.

And maybe this old man will get to share a few waves with them.

freesurfer1977's picture
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freesurfer1977 Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 10:58am

Thanks for sharing dowey, I have no words,with all my heart I wish you all the best!!

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simonh Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 11:17am

Wow. Beautiful story and amazing comments.
I am so lucky to be a dad and experienced the same thing.
This article should be reposted on Fathers day and an entry in the Purlitzer Prize.
Dowey that is heart breaking. Best wishes mate.

kang's picture
kang's picture
kang Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 12:16pm

As a surf frothing new father of a 2yr old girl and 2 week old boy, I've always assumed the kids would follow my passion of the ocean. I've already talked to my son through the goo goos late night at 3am trying to get him to sleep about doing a family boat trip when he turns 16 to Indo where we will dive, fish and score the waves of a lifetime. It's my ultimate dream. But this forum has been a real eye opener, You've got to respect that the kids will pursue their own path and if thats not a love of surfing and the ocean, its something I may have to accept. They will find their passion on what they love, just as I did in surfing and the ocean. Thanks to everyone who has posted and shared their story, its been a real eye opener and quite possibly changed my perspective on expectations. in saying this you better believe I'll be hunting them 1ft glassy hot summer days to plant the seed

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Jono Friday, 24 Jun 2022 at 9:02am

Another one here with kids (7 and 10) that are indifferent to the surf, even though we now live in a place that I could have only dreamed about growing up. Tried early on to get my eldest into surfing, pushed too hard and ended up achieving the opposite. A few shorebreak nosedives and going over the handle bars also didn't help, with him leaving the water in tears. But last year I signed him up with a local surf school that picks him up (and other mates/kids from around the area) after school once a week and takes them for a 2 hour surf session/lesson. Totally changed his outlook and I think I'm on the right track as he is now showing more interest when I casually ask if he wants to go for a quick shorey sesh. It's turned it into a bit of a cool activity for him to do after school (and now my younger daughter is seeing what's going on and wants in), and the surf instructors seem to do a better job than dad :)

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 1:24pm

Thanks for everyone's contributions to what's a been a really insightful discussion.

Gotta say, as much as I hope my kids keep on surfing, I'm also just very grateful that they're happy and healthy. We have as much fun playing music, camping, riding bikes, fishing, etc with them as we do in the water, so whatever makes 'em happy is all fine to me.

boater's picture
boater's picture
boater Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 1:36pm

Great article and discussion thanks.

I spent years pushing my kids on to waves, which was more fun than surfing myself and they now have a good feel for the water. One day I saw a bit of paper lying around where my 11yo drew a picture of him surfing with a caption "I like surfing but don't want to die" - I think b/c he got smashed on a beachie one day. I made the common mistake of encouraging them on to waves they weren't quite ready for. Depending on the kid, not usually a great idea.

Anyway, they're older now and as mentioned a few times above, surf more on their own terms - i.e. only go out in certain conditions, pretty cautious. Which is OK / I'm coming to terms with

Weatherman's picture
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Weatherman Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 4:18pm

Dowey, that is heartbreaking to read. I can only admire your strength to carry on. You are brave beyond words to share this.

Barrel Daithwaite's picture
Barrel Daithwaite's picture
Barrel Daithwaite Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 4:39pm

Got my first on the way. Just a few months to go.

Heartbreaking to hear about your son Dowey I got a bit teary eyed reading it.

Sounds like the best advice I read to help encourage the love of the water is:

-beach time that’s not surfing, rockpools, snorkelling etc
-don’t push them to hard especially into waves above their level
-clear, beautiful perfect days to start to build the froth.

Anything else?

Also at what age do you guys start usually (for those who had good results)?

Seen vids online where you take really small kids out on a big longboard and basically they just hang on while you do all the paddling. Looks like a good way to start but perhaps pushing them in better? Arm floaties? Any opinions?

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RockyIsland Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 at 5:37pm

All the best to you and your family Dowey really feeling for you...you have a lot of support out there

garyg1412's picture
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garyg1412 Friday, 24 Jun 2022 at 8:31am

What a great thread. Lots of smiles reading through everyone's comments as well some heart breaking stuff as well.
I grew up with my old man making 9 foot logs in the loungeroom in the early 60's when poly foam and resin were the latest things. My brain cells must have survived, but the marriage almost didn't as you can imagine my mums cooking being tainted on a regular basis.
My young bloke started on a boogie board at twelve years old and was shitting himself in 2 foot surf at Bar Beach when he started. 12 Months later he was charging sand dredging monsters at Nobbies and we even had a few sessions together inside the harbour break wall. Pretty chuffed old man I was.
Then he just gave it up overnight went off the rails for about 8 years and hasn't touched a board since. Thankfully he sorted his life out and is now a rabid spearfisherman which suits me fine as we have just as much fun doing that together nowadays.

liplauncher's picture
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liplauncher Friday, 24 Jun 2022 at 10:16am

Yeah I have four adult sons, all grew up within a stretched leg rope of the beach, and only one now a surfer, and a very talented and capable one at that. I don't get it, maybe its just all too crowded and competitive
Other things spark their interests. One lives in the desert.
I well remember that feeling of fear and compulsion,
I still get it now.

Queef Jerky's picture
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Queef Jerky Saturday, 25 Jun 2022 at 9:51pm

fifty 50yo here and I'm just commenting on Hubbard!
I loved getting his 2nd boards at the O&E outlet Sussex, so fast! Not gonna pay $300 for boards or fins, he obviously wins anyway

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Dowey Sunday, 26 Jun 2022 at 7:13pm

Dan,
I had to come back and re read your story, it's like you were sitting there watching us. So good it made me cry again, and happily again and again. Memories I will treasure forever.
Thanks everyone for the well wishes and yes you all made me cry again.
If I may, I have 3 short stories to tell and I'll leave you be, have to read happier stories on here and I do have a laugh at others bickering.
1. Think it was in the under 12's & "J" decided he wanted to have a go at AFL, why not hey.
Well one cold icy Saturday morning in a beautiful coastal valley town we were all standing watching the game and "J" and a couple of mates were watching everything but what was going on in THEIR game (as boys do) when all of a sudden the ball bounced right in front of him and straight into his arms, with an almighty fright he tucked the ball in under the arm and off he went just like we played league at home, problem was he was running in the wrong direction and with all the crowd yelling he just kicked it lol. No one said a word after the game but one of funniest thing I have seen him do.
2. One of the work buddies is leaving this week and let me in on something "J" did when the buddy first started, story goes buddy made quite a mistake and cranky dad came along asking who did it......apparently "J" jumped up and claimed he made the mistake and saved buddies bacon just like that. Special.
3. Five life long buddies after hearing both "J" and I never got to fully use our basic tricked up 4wd's together have talked and organised me to take "J's" 4x4 through a 3-4 week trip to SA, Alice and the Simpson Desert. Two weeks to go from yesterday and we are gone, "JUST DO IT" he used to say. Going to be a special time.
Some after reading this will know who me and "J" are and that's fine, I'm as proud as punch of him as never heard him say a bad word against anyone, he's still teaching me things now.
Dan, once again that was special for me, thanks and thanks again to all.
As someone mentioned earlier, I too wish I was a little more computer literate to know how to save this article but will work it out one day.
Just do it !!!!!!

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H2O Sunday, 26 Jun 2022 at 7:31pm

Only just read this and the comments. Wow. Couple of things - Dowey - heartfelt thoughts to you. We have one who could have easily gone the same way as yours . All kids are different and from what I can see its usually the most beautiful , sensitive and kind that suffer from what I can only guess your kid did .All the best. Zen - your kindness and love of animals puts you into the champion class for what would make a great Dad. There will be many kids during your life that will meet and make a great and rewarding connection with you . No doubt about that.
Re surfing, as I have said, kids are all different and you really cant tell which one will get the bug. Ours grew up in the country 350ks from the sea but spent all or most school holidays at the beach where they all learned to bodysurf and still love the ocean . Only one boy went on to be an accomplished surfer .

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Sunday, 26 Jun 2022 at 9:05pm

Scored a perfect, empty bank with my kids this morning. Sunny skies, clear blue water, light offshore winds, and a rare gutter/bank setup that was ideal for the slow 1-2ft sets trickling through. Both of 'em were hooting and hollering as they scored fun lil' runners on their forehand (uncommon around here.. they're both goofies!). One of those special sessions that I'll never forget.

andy-mac's picture
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andy-mac Sunday, 26 Jun 2022 at 10:03pm

Epic!!!!!!
Enjoy....

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stylemaster1970 Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 2:48pm

I'm still sitting on the beach at 51!

stylemaster1970's picture
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stylemaster1970 Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 2:48pm

I'm still sitting on the beach at 51!