I don’t know that I can deny it, there is a kid inside of me. If I were to deny it, my wonderful wife would correct me… because nine times out of ten I’m wrong. This would be that one time I’m correct by saying I’m wrong that many times!
It comes with the territory as a dad though. We long for the feeling of playing catch with our kids in the backyard or playing tea party with them. It doesn’t matter how or what our kids want play, we want to be right there with them.
There is nothing wrong with that either. Just like dads long to bring out the kid in ourselves, our children long for their father to be involved. It is a win-win for both kids and dads when you think about it.
For me personally, there a came a point for me when the kid inside of me came out too strong and ruined the fun that my son was having one afternoon.
It was a unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in January. William, after attending the local boat show, had a sudden interest in archery. As we embarked to the backyard, I place our new red, blue, and yellow target next to the fence.
As we mark off our steps, I ask William if I can take the first shot. Looking back, I realize that this was the first mistake I made ruining the fun my son was about to have.
As I drew the bow back, I aimed towards the target, let go and watched as the arrow flew through the air. The closer it soared to the middle of the target, it started to climb, and climb, and climb some more. As if it were mocking me saying, “if you are going to ruin his fun… we will ruin his fun!”
As it flew over our neighbors fence, it reminded of the Sandlot without the baseball signed by Babe Ruth. I knew it was just an arrow and we can drive over to the sporting goods store to buy another. I’d even buy it for him rather than have him scrap together coins from the neighborhood kids. It just seemed like the right thing to do in this case.
He fell to his knees visibly upset. Here I went losing part of his new found hobby to the neighbors yard. I walked up to him to comfort him and tell him that it is OK and he has four other arrows he can shoot. He shakes his head that it’s OK and gets up to start his “practice” as he is preparing for the Olympics as he likes to say.
As he practices, I can see that he isn’t himself. The arrow that has stuck itself in our neighbors backyard because of me, is fresh in his mind. He cuts his practice short and walks in the house defeated, all because dad had to go and be the one to shoot an arrow first.
While throughout the day, after retrieving said arrow from our neighbors backyard, I kept thinking about that moment I saw the arrow fly over that fence. I couldn’t help but think that if the kid inside me hadn’t decided to show it’s ugly four-eyed zit covered face, my son and I would still be outside in the backyard, bonding over his new hobby.
It wasn’t just in that moment either, take the time I flat out ran over one of William’s baseball team mates on the last practice of the season during a parents vs. kids game while running from first to second. It was in that moment that the kid inside of me wanted to pull the best Rickey Henderson move I had and go on a full on sprint between the bases. Instead the moment I made my turn towards second base, I run right into one of his team mates, probably crushing his dreams of playing first base someday for the Kansas City Royals.
I guess one of the hardest things to keep in mind as the parent to two boys, knowing that eventually Joseph will have the same experience William is having with me, is that I need to take a step back, and let my kids be kids. There is a time and place for that kid inside of me to come out, the time in the backyard not one of them. The time we are playing basketball in the front yard, watching him take me to took the hoop and scoring the game winning basket, might just be one of them as I fall to me knees and lament my defeat.