We don’t do a whole lot of arts & crafts around my house. It’s not that I have some aversion to it. I actually enjoy painting and the like, but it’s really challenging with little kids. It’s usually super messy, set-up & clean up take 45 minutes while the project itself only lasts 10 and the resulting project will either end up in the trash or a box in the garage within 3 days. Today, however, I decided we were going to throw caution to the wind and break out the paints.
On occasion I send the kids out into the fenced-in back yard to run around and play while I get dinner ready in the kitchen and watch them through the large bay windows. I usually open one of the windows so I can keep a better ear out for anything that might be going on.
It is not uncommon to hear crying and one child yelling out that another isn’t sharing some toy or another. But, this one particular day while I am preparing dinner I turn my back to the window and happen to hear a child screaming “Help, Help”
Now a cry is one thing, a cry means the damage has already been done. I can only offer comfort at best at that point. But a cry for help is a completely different thing all together. A cry for help means danger is imminent but hasn’t happened yet and I might be able to stop it. I instantly dropped what I was doing and sprinted out the back door not even pausing to look out the window first.
I threw open the door and sprinted out into the yard to begin my visual sweep and assess the situation. I just knew that there wasn’t a moment to lose. Then I looked up. I saw my child in trouble. I stopped running. My three year old looks up at me and with deep concern in his voice calls out:
“Help, Help. This thing is stuck on me and it made my pants fall off!”
“Umm, yeah buddy, I’ll help you out. Just let daddy get his camera first….”
When our first child was born all he knew was one on one time with mom or dad. When our second child was born we could still rather easily find the time to split the kids up and get some quality one on one time with each of them. When our daughter was born it started to become more difficult to carve out any great one on one time with her. By the time our 4th kid came along the idea of one on one time was becoming a distant memory.
Trips to the doctor’s office are always unpredictable. Thankfully today was one of those days where my wife had off and I didn’t have to take all the kids in with me. The two youngest had well-checks so I tossed some extra snacks into my bag and off we went. Both kids fell asleep in the car on the way…that’s going to mess up nap times later. After checking in and clearing up an issue where they got one of my other kids mixed up with another child on a previous visit I head to the waiting room. The waiting room is always a special adventure. I sit there like a fly on the wall while the moms carry on with their motherhood conversations. Today’s topic of conversation was public breastfeeding.
My kids seem to enjoy any trip that gets them out of the house. The grocery store is no different. I’m eternally grateful to BJ’s Wholesale Club for having a decent stock of family friendly shopping carts. These carts have a double-seater race car on the front and two standard kid seats up near the handle. This allows me to put all 4 of my kids into the cart in proper seats.
My kids are constantly chattering about something, saying hello six or seven times to every person that passes and incessantly asking me for every toy and sweet that we pass. I’ve gotten pretty good at blocking out all their noise. But this morning my 3 year old was so excited about something that I had to pause and find out exactly what it was he was so fired up about.
I leaned around the front of the cart and asked him to repeat what he was saying. With all the excitement of Christmas Morning his eyes lit up as he pointed across the store and through an anticipatory shiver he yelled out:
“Can we go into that Burrrry Thing?!”
I just smiled at him. I could learn a thing or two from him about enjoying the simple things in life.
“Yes, son, we can go into the walk-in cooler”
When I venture to the playground with my 4 kids I have to have my head on a constant swivel. The youngest isn’t mobile yet but the other 3 run around like lunatics. It seems they have an unspoken rule that they will be the furthest away from each other as possible at all times. This makes it extra challenging to keep an eye on them and I’m always thankful when I have an extra set of eyes helping me watch.
This one particular Saturday my brother-in-law volunteered to go with me and the kids to check out a park nearby that we had never been to. As per usual, the 3 kids each proceeded to go do something far away from the others. At least I had my brother-in-law to help out. This playground was designed for kids ages 5-12 so I was grateful to have the help in watching the kids as there were some elements where they could have gotten hurt.
One such element was a giant boulder/wall that doubled as a bridge between two other platforms. It was a unique setup that I’ve never seen before. It was cool but it also provided an excellent opportunity for someone to fall off a 4 foot high rock. I had been watching my 5 year old go back and forth across it several times and began to get comfortable with him being up there. That’s when out of the corner of my eye I saw him hop from one side to the other on one foot.
Not wanting him to take that risk again I walked over to him and asked him what that one footed hop was all about. He looked at me, got real serious for a moment, leaned in and very matter-of-factly told me:
“What I’m trying to do is make myself look like a big kid so people don’t think I’m 5, so they think I’m 6, or maybe even 7.”
Oh to be a kid again. I just smiled and held his hand and calmly replied:
“Well, what I’m trying to do is look like a good Dad and keep you from breaking your arm. So could you please not do that again?”
It’s not often I get to have a day without any kids. But a little while ago I was able to do just that and got to take advantage of the time to play some golf with an old friend. It was a beautiful day and my buddy had 2 of his friends come and join us. The four of us were having a great time on the golf course. Somewhere around the 6th hole one of my buddy’s friends hurried up to the tee box and got ready to hit his first shot while the rest of us were getting our drivers out of our golf bags and heading toward him.
As we are walking toward him he let rip with his tee shot. It was a beautifully struck shoot. The golf ball started out low and you could instantly tell it was going to continue to rise. It was the type of shot I love to hit. Since it starts low and gradually rises it loses little to no distance doing a high arcing loop and when it hits the ground it gets a great roll. It should have been a shot anyone would have been proud to hit. There was just one problem…
He hit the ball about 15 degrees to the left. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot and maybe on another hole it wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but on this particular hole, about 20 yards away, there just so happened to be a dead palm tree 15 degrees to the left. His screaming line drive shot hit the tree and made the exact “thud” you would expect to hear from a golf ball hitting a dead, slightly rotten palm tree. What happened next is what made this particular shot one I’ll never forget.
Because the tree was rotten, the golf ball didn’t bounce off very fast. The ball just sort of slowly lobbed itself off the tree right back toward the guy who hit the shot. It was such a slow motion bounce-back that the guy could have easily just stepped to the right, stepped to the left or he could have even just caught it. He chose option 4. He turned around and tried to outrun it by running directly at the 3 of us walking up toward him.
His eyes were wide with terror, he had thrown his arms up into the air and had commenced screaming like a 6 year old girl. Approximately 3 steps into his poor decision, the ball plopped him in the middle of his back. He let out another scream and hit the ground like he had just been assassinated. Now understand, I’m not one of those guys who finds great humor in others’ injuries. But in this instance I had to take a knee and it was at least a minute before I could regain my breath. Even now I can’t think about that shot without smiling at least a little.