Part 5 was about my skydiving days as they related to my mother. This post is devoted to the intersection of my skydiving and my daughter when she was very young.
I had started skydiving when I was in college, then I quit after I got married and had a baby. I thought my days of jumping out of airplanes were over forever, but I got the itch again when Sweet Girl was a toddler, and I went back to jump again. She was in a stroller the first few times I took her to the drop zone, and I always had someone there who could watch her. The first thing she ever knew about airplanes was that Mom left in one, it came back empty, and Mom floated down from the sky under a parachute. Normal, right?
The first time Sweet Girl was to fly in a commercial aircraft, my mother was taking her to New York only a few days after her 4th birthday. She wasn't nervous at all about getting in an airplane; not nearly as nervous as I was about her being away from me for a week. My mother related this story after they boarded the airplane: Sweet Girl was all buckled in, waiting for take-off, when she turned to my mother and asked, "When do we jump out?" I would give every penny I've ever had if she had asked the flight attendant that question instead of my mother. (Well, that may be a SLIGHT exaggeration, but I think it would have been hilarious.)
When Sweet Girl was a little older and knew her way around the drop zone better than I did (I still had trouble finding the airport from the plane, no joke), I took her with me and left her under the somewhat watchful eye of others at the drop zone while I was in the plane. (I''m sure you'll find that chapter in Good Parenting 101.) They knew Sweet Girl, she was comfortable wherever she was and never met a stranger (including wandering away from her mother in the train station in Munich, but that's a different blog post).
I came back from a jump one day and Sweet Girl wasn't there to greet me as I landed (mercifully) near the packing shed. When I asked where she was, someone replied, "She went flying with James."
"Oh," I said, walking toward the shed. Then I stopped.
"Wait," I said. "Who's James?" Sweet Girl was SEVEN years old.
When they landed, I was too relieved to be angry. Besides, where would I have directed my anger? James? Sweet Girl? Myself? I vote for the last one.
So I snapped this picture before Sweet Girl could exit the plane. Then she spoke words to warm a mother's heart:
"Mom! We went flying in James's plane....after he fixed it!"
Maybe I should have instilled just a LITTLE fear in her?
All this talk about skydiving has made me miss it a little. A lot.
I'm thinking about going back to this very drop zone, but just to make a tandem jump. I'm using a certain weight as an incentive. Because I have to tell them that before we make the jump, and as it's important to tell the truth, I want to make sure my actual weight matches what I tell them.
Until that point, this will more than likely be my last post related to my skydiving days.