I think it was driving a car that first got him thinking about the difference between being a kid and being a grown up with a drivers license. I don’t know if all kids love cars or if they love motion and the idea of controlling their own direction and by seeing the white lines converge in the distance on the notion that destiny is literally just over the rise. It’s forward thinking, to drive, and he wanted it.
“I can drive the car when I be a grown up,” he said. He was less than two and a half years old, and already looking to leave behind that which we cherished beyond imagination. The small person that he is, that lack of coordination and judgement, that ability to fall down a dozen times a day and never think twice about it. When was the last time I fell down walking across the yard?
Last night was Wednesdays at the park. It was just us and it was the first time in a while we were all at the park together. Our family, just the three of us. I was checking email, my wife was on the phone talking about work stuff and our son was standing at the opening in the fence, the slides and monkey bars behind him looking out ahead at the big kids, some 3 years his senior playing soccer in the field. Calling to each other, kicking the balls, laughing, running without falling down.
Being a parent is a strange emotional ride. You put all your eggs in one basket, then sit by while that basket changes every day. As an adult, you hold onto things. You collect objects not to show that you are knowledgable in folk art, National Geographic Magazines or wine, but to be able to look at things that you value and want to protect and see every day that they do not change. How do you value, love and protect something that is different every single day?
He wanted to go play with the soccer ball. I told him it wasn’t his, but they probably wouldn’t have cared if he kicked it around the sidelines. He left it and came back to the slides, climbed up one and ran, giggling like a little boy across the cat walk and down to the grotto that held dinosaur bones fossilized in injection-molded plastic for him to discover. Then he threw a fit and cried like a baby as I drug him to the car for a chicken nugget dinner at home.