A Father’s Easter Weekend.
You will get out of bed, having slept terribly the night before. You will make coffee and tea, while Mom chugs her Diet Coke for her needed morning dose of caffeine.
You will rush into the shower and devour breakfast as quickly as possible. Next it’s time to fix snacks for the kids and fill the water bottles. Then a rush to get everyone dressed and into the car.
Once in the car, you will hit the road with a brief pit stop to pick up cash for the morning’s activities. Then it’s a half hour drive to the farm that changes its local gimmick with the season. Some times it’s zombie paintball, other times it’s a corn maze. This time it’s Easter.
You get the kids out of the car and wait in line to get your wristbands. Then you load the kids into a big wagon, pulled by a tractor, into a field divided up by sections for varying age ranges. Mom agrees to take the youngest. You take the eldest, bucket in hand.
Once the well-meaning tractor driver says “Go” you lead the eldest off into the patch of grass scattered with plastic eggs. You explain the rules of the game: grab all the eggs you can and put them in the bucket. The eldest goes at it with glee.
When the kids pick the patch dry, it’s another wagon ride back to the main area, where all the eggs are returned and the kids select prizes. The eldest wants the bunny. The youngest goes for something else.
Then it’s off to the play area with swings, slides and obstacle courses right next to the farm’s animals. The youngest eventually tires of the swing set and wants to look at the donkeys and chickens. Mom goes off in pursuit of the animals, and you stay with the eldest.
Eventually the eldest makes it to an obstacle course leading to a slide. You help the eldest navigate the obstacles until reaching the slide. The eldest loves it so much this adventure is repeated ad nauseum until it’s time to leave, with it being the middle of the day and temperatures reaching “stupid hot” levels.
You guide the kids back to the car, one per parent. You start the car after getting the kids strapped in. Mom gives the kids their water bottles. All of you leave for home, stopping briefly once more to get the kids another gallon of milk (oh, they go through it once a week) before finally making it back to the house.
Next it’s lunchtime, then the youngest takes a nap. You and Mom collapse on the couch for a few minutes while the eldest colors.
And you do it all with a smile.
You do it because you realized a while back the entire experience of parenting isn’t about you.
Parenting is about them.
It’s about the light in their eyes when they finally make it to the bottom of the slide and want one more turn.
It’s the excited giggles they make when you bust out the bubbles and they run around popping every last one.
It’s about those moments when one wants to dance with you, ride around on your back as a “horsey,” and give you hugs and kisses goodnight.
Because you know there’s going to be a day when they don’t want to dance with you.
There will be a time when they think Dad’s not cool enough to seek his advice. They’ll ask you to drop them off a block from the school so they don’t get seen riding with Dad in the car. Gone will be the days when you were able to make them smile with a stupid card trick.
You do all this because you know one day they’ll come back with a family of their own. They will have the revelation you had. They’ll start asking you questions, meaningful ones about life they never thought to ask earlier.
And you will smile. Because that’s what being a father is like.
And learning the lessons of being a father, struggling daily to “get it right,” is one of the greatest rewards you’ve ever received.