My oldest had a birthday party to go to the other day, so I took him there and then took his younger brother out. We were experiencing one of those schizophrenic winter days in Virginia where it was 70 degrees with snow in the forecast for the next day. I figured that I would do my best to spend some one on one time with my middle child, kick the soccer ball around a little bit, and just take in some Vitamin D while it was still warm enough to run around without a jacket.
Our soccer lesson lasted all of 20 minutes. He just didn’t seem to be into it. Actually, I think he was being drawn by the playground in the distance. It seemed to be beckoning him, almost calling his name, inviting him to come and play, to climb, to swing, to jump. So, we abandoned the soccer balls and ran for the equipment…..well, he ran, I walked briskly.
I watched him climb and jump and swing. After a little while, we moved on to another playground, the one his brother plays on regularly. I did my best to get my old bones moving on the play equipment too. Of course, some of the equipment creaked under the weight of my frame. I know, I know, I told it, I need to lose a couple of pounds.
As I watched my son running free and enjoying his time, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself as well. These moments won’t last forever, so I was thankful to savor them, to soak them in, to allow them to burn themselves on my memory. I found myself walking through the grounds of the school and remembering. I was remembering my own elementary school, the place where I had spent 7 years of my life, within walking distance of my home.
These years present such an innocent age, an age when time seems to move slowly, an age when the world seems huge, vast, unconquerable, and unknowable. Of course, it’s a very different world than it was all those years ago when I was in the same position, but some of the same sentiments still apply.
As I became a child again, I glanced at another father who was there with his family. His wife was playing with the kids while he sat on the bench, engrossed in whatever messages had come across his smartphone. I swore to myself that I didn’t want to be THAT guy because in those “important” messages, I would miss very important moments. And in those moments, I realized that I had probably been THAT guy on more than one occasion.
Tomorrow is another day with new opportunities, but we’re not always guaranteed either one. So I’ll wake up and take advantage of whatever comes my way. My kids will be a day older and so will I. How will I respond to them? I hope that I can foster some more of that innocence that seems to be so fleeting. I hope that I can instill in them the sense of wonder, the sense of adventure, the sense of excitement in doing things that could easily come across as mundane.
Here’s to a new day. Here’s to the new opportunities. Here’s to making sure that I don’t turn into THAT guy.