Jack is really, really, really fast. It’s my job to keep up with him, to the best of my ability. My relationship with Jack has had a rather consistent evolution. At first, you’d have thought I had invented and was attempting to perfect the concept of helicopter parenting. I was protective to a fault. I remember asking Jack close to a year ago if he needed help climbing off a log he was walking along. There was a woman, perhaps in her early 60s, also at the park with I’m assuming her grandchildren. As quick as I could ask: “Do you need help, Jack?” she commented “He’s doing pretty good on his own.” I recall immediately loving that interaction and I even shot back a sincere “Thank you.” She was right and I took her comments are guidance without judgement. Now, this is a tricky fence to walk along. If I’m going to be open to the acceptance of guidance when I feel it’s beneficial, don’t I also have to be open to those quips disguised as advice that wreak of superiority and know-it-all-ness? As with most things, there is a time and a place but if I’m the one deciding on which time and which place I might as well just accept EVERYTHING that comes my way and deal with the feelings that come with it as they come. Kind of like a healthy-minded adult, huh.
Perhaps a philosophical discussion for another time, as I’ve gotten QUITE off track here. Long gone are my days as pilot of “Chopper Dad”, I am more than happy to be the casual observer of Jack’s playtime for the most part. Now, this doesn’t delete those things that I both love doing and share a stereotypical dad fondness for. That would include, but not limited to: playing catch, playing soccer, playing basketball, playing t-ball, pretending that he just pinned me and won the WWF Championship of the World, walking around casually holding him upside down by the ankles, pretending that I just pinned HIM and won the WWF Championship of the World, doing puzzles, reading books, eating the pizza he cooks in a frying pan next to a can of vegetables and some grapes, and “doing kung fu”.
We still play a lot together, and I love it. I cannot tell you how amazing my day is right now knowing that, at any given point, he could just run up and attempt to tackle me. But the helicopter has to head out and refuel a lot. Jack plays with other kids at the park and he’s gonna start doing more of that. So, I’ll be relegated to the spot of Dad sitting by watching and occasionally checking out his phone while he’s either following or being followed by all manner of kids. There all there, in all shapes and sizes and level of George approval or disapproval. I’m kind of shocked at the amount of times I can look at a kid in a day and think “Just who the hell does he think he is?” There’s the kid who says he’s 5, when he’s really only 4. The little girl that already knows she’s got the boy’s attention. The little boy that already knows he’s got the boy’s attention. The tree climbing crowd. The small one who’s trying to keep up. The big one that’s awkwardly out of place. The kid who, for some reason, just has a giant stick on the playground. And, some one in the middle of it all, is Jack. Jack is big, strong, and fast. Kids think he’s 4, but he’ll proudly say “I’m two” when asked. His size is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes everyone forgets how little he is because of how big he is. Hell, sometimes even Allison and I do. He is growing up so fast that sometimes I just have to step back, remove any expectations and realize “He’s only two.”
For an “only two” though, he’s got one hell of a schedule. It’s humbling to know that the only reason I’m busy is that I’m shuttling my son to and from his various appointments all the live long day. Barring any doctor’s appointments or birthday parties, there is only Friday and Sunday were Jack has no previous obligations. So, I get tired. My back hurts. I still nap when he naps. When Jack goes in his room for nap now he says “It’s quiet time.” and sometimes he’ll just sit there and read a book for half an hour while I recharge. Once that’s happened, I’m at 100% dad again. At least until around 4pm, when I’ll usually stupidly have another cup of coffee and wonder why I can’t sleep at 10pm. The long and short of it all is that I’m a lucky guy. I’m lucky to be this tired and blessed that my day consists of having to keep up with my son. I don’t need to ponder the alternatives, I lived them for quite a while. At the very least and on the worst of days, this way of life is always remarkably better.
So, if you don’t have any already, go and get yourself some kids. It’s amazingly the most frantic, frustrating, painful, joyous, remarkable, belly-laugh and huge smile inducing experience you can have as a human being.