My family was busy tonight with 40%of the kids camping with grandma, 40% showing cows at a fair practice and the remaining sweet little 20% of five-year-old-girl left in my charge. One of the unspoken tragedies of having exceptionally capable daughters is that I am slowing becoming entirely incompetent in the kitchen. With little knowledge of what I could make and even less desire to do it, I decided tonight was a daddy daughter date. We took the short drive to the little pizza joint in the town closest to our home. As we walked across the impossibly hot parking lot, her little hand reached up and took mine. In that moment you could strip me of every earthy possession and achievement to my name…I would still be the wealthiest man on face of the earth. This little human, who i’ve been told looks about two thirds me and only one third her mother, has incredible power that is capable of instantly melting me into to her will.
Case in point, I hate playgrounds. We live on a farm with climbable trees, a real stream running through the middle, hills, forts, and miles to run. Why would I ever want to go stand next to a booger laden plastic fortress while my children contract a rare strand of polio from the seemingly abandoned and exceptionally dirty children who can’t keep their hands out of their scratchy bum crack…right before they literally lick every inch of the drinking fountain. YET, as we walked away from our totally awesome cheesy bread date she spotted this primary colored petri dish in the distance. “Dad, can I go and play?” …blink blink smile blink…. A reasoned man, who doesn’t want to spend the next twelve hours holding her hair back while she overcomes the dysentery that was available for free on the tire swing, would say “no” and toss her into the back seat of the car before she bought a marijuana cigarette from the 7-year-old by the monkey bars. What did I do….”you bet!”
The hardest part of parenting for me to fathom is that for a few short years, these kids that God has placed in my care, think that I am awesome. They think I’m the strongest, smartest, coolest person they know. I’m often a little concerned that there isn’t some form of “lemon law” where I am required to inform them that this “so called” super hero that is raising them…can’t do a pull-up (or is at significant risk of a grunt-fart-wardrobe change moment). Funny thing is they wouldn’t care. They actually just love me… because I’m me. If only this type of relationship could exist with everyone in our lives.
I love the county fair for the same guilty pleasure we all do; people watching. I’ve seen some pretty amazing zoos, but they all pale in comparison to the NASCAR fan holding a turkey leg under his arm while he dominates the corn-on-the-cob that appears to be attacking his face because he is clearly biting back. One would think that there is a limit to the way that you can wear a tube top…there clearly isn’t. The line at the corn dog stand doubles as a artist display case of tattoos that will limit your career choices…I digress. One of my favorite sightings at the fair are the father son pairs. It is nearly as special as a unicorn sighting when you see matching father-son mullets with similar airbrushed wolf t-shirts and hiking boots. This cruel world hasn’t had time yet to crush that boys uninhibited view that his dad is cool. You’ll see a mom and her passel of daughters all wearing matching, home spun sun dresses. The dad with a sleeveless t-shirt to show off his Van Halen tattoo has a little turd standing next to him with a mo-hawk and airbrush tattoo of a current, but similarly relevant band of fools on his arm.
While it is fun to spot the ones that I don’t understand and make light of their inability to be exactly like me (shameful really), it is actually something special. These kids are dressing and acting like their parents, because they think they are awesome. As they grow, their friends, T.V., and other popular sources will tell them that they shouldn’t do this. This is a reality that is a little hard to digest. I’m finding with my older daughters that my presence in their conversations with friends is becoming a little less welcome, and super risky. While my older kids and i have actually maintained pretty good friendships…it’s just different as they get older.
What am I going to do about it? Tomorrow, I’m not sure…Today, I’m going to put my phone away and walk over to the park holding my daughters hand…while I still have a chance.