Daughter and dad

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I was slowly grinding up Silver Spur on the way home. Magyar and I had finished the NPR, grabbed coffee at the Center of the Known Universe, and sneaked in a few extra miles on the way home. He’s a single dad with a 10-year-old daughter, works two jobs, and is able to get away for a morning weekday ride once every couple of months, max.

Magyar is one of those guys with a lot of talent who discovered bikes late in the game. He’s one of the few for whom “no time to train” isn’t just an excuse for average results, it’s the truth. Sometimes I run into him at the tail end of a 70-hour week and I wonder how he can even pedal down the bike path.

“How’s the little girl?” I asked him.

“Oh, she’s doing good, real good,” he said. “We’re going to do some running together this week. She’s pretty quick on her feet.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah, she’s very quick. I think she can be a good runner. But that’s not the main focus.”

“What is?”

“For her it’s about making good grades and reading books. That’s what is going to make a difference in her life.”

I thought about that for a second, and how different it was from parents whose biggest dreams for their kids involved hitting a ball, scoring a touchdown, crossing a finish line. “How do you figure?” I probed.

“She was having some trouble in 3rd Grade with math and reading. Then I sat down with her and I said, ‘Honey, let’s talk about school.’ ‘Okay,’ she said, and I said ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and she said ‘I want to be a lawyer like my Auntie or really I want to be a doctor.'”

“That’s pretty cool,” I said.

“Yeah, but I asked her how she was going to do that because if you want to be a lawyer you have to write and read a lot and if you want to be a doctor you gotta do the mathematics and science.”

“What did she say?”

“She said she didn’t know. So I told her we were gonna work on math homework every day for an hour and she was gonna read books every day for thirty minutes. That was at the beginning of the school year.”

“Then what?”

“She’s a straight-A student now. She loves reading, too. After she got her report card with an A in math, you know what she said?”

“What?”

“She said, ‘I like math. Math is easy. And books are fun!’ Just her and me sitting down together every night, you know? Even though a lot of the time I fall asleep, I’m so damn tired.”

I got chills thinking about my buddy, busting his butt seven days a week at two grueling jobs, neither of which pays enough, and coming home every day to do homework with his daughter. I thought about him slumping over, asleep, but then pulling it together to go ride his bike and even make plans to go running with his kid.

“I wish I hadn’t gotten into cycling so late,” he said.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” I replied.

“Why’s that?”

“Because you made it in time for life. For hers.”

We pedaled the rest of the way up the hill and didn’t say anything more. We didn’t need to.

END

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