Work has been exceptionally hectic this week. From the couple of nanoseconds where I thought I was getting fired to having InDesign totally shit the bed to the conference we held in Kingsville today for future health care professionals, it’s been quite a week.
After work, I picked up my boys from the babysitter (a.k.a. my sister-in-law) and we headed home. Saying I was exhausted wouldn’t begin to describe how tired I was. I wanted to become one with the couch and veg out until Lacey got home.
But one of the boys asked me, “Daddy, can we go to the park today?” One of them had asked me the day before, but I was tired then and had said no. I wanted to give the same response for today (and I felt I was well within my right to do so).
Some part of me realized this was one of a shrinking number of opportunities I could spend with my boys. And I pushed the fatigue aside and seized the opportunity with both hands.
“Sure,” I said. “Let’s go to the park and you two can ride your bikes. In fact, I’ll take mine too.”
Yep, we went to West Guth Park. It’s got a great bike/jogging trail, a pond with ducks and geese (and more than a few shy turtles), and a frisbee-golf course.
The background in the photo above is the practice field for the T-M Middle School football team. Some twenty years ago, I was a gawky 7th grader with a bunch of rage and some sense of wanting to prove to myself I could hack it in football. We did pushups in ant hills, gassers (where you run at full speed and drop to the ground when the coach blows his whistle), and occasionally got a pass on saying cuss words in front of adults.
Normally, I avoid taking the boys to the park without Lacey there. Usually, one of them gets “too tired” to finish walking/running/riding a lap around the park (it’s, like 1.1 miles, big whoop). So I usually get pissed off, load everything back up in the truck and head home. I make a solemn vow to never take them on my own again.
Today feels different. Like somehow all the stress and fatigue of this week has shown me that whatever bullcrap I might get from the boys would pale in comparison to this week.
We rode along the bike trail, and some in the street. It felt great, knowing both boys wanted to spend time with me. It’s a bittersweet thing for me because I know those days are coming to an end. And much sooner than I’m ready for. Soon, I’ll find myself practically begging them to spend time with their old man.
Once, I told Logan (my oldest) that I was sad that one day he wouldn’t want to hang out with his dad anymore. And he said, “But I’ll always love you.”
I’ll never forget that.
The other pleasant surprise for me was how well the boys did riding their bikes. I’m used to a lot of whining and fit-throwing when I take them to the park myself. There was none of that this time around. There was no complaining, no boo boos to kiss, no screaming frustration because one brother got too far ahead of the other one.
They’re one step closer to being the men I want them to be. When they can say they don’t need me to guide them anymore. That they just need a friend (and maybe some good advice from time to time). I yearn for that day to come, but I don’t let that yearning cause me to lose sight of the precious few moments I have left where I’m still their hero.
We flew down those trails, without fear, like majestic hawks.