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Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Beautiful Friday

I am up and not completely happy about it as it is 6:12AM on Saturday morning.  Why am I up?  My kids, the younger ones, 4 & 6, decided 5:10 was a good wake up time.  My wife and I, OK my wife, has spent the last hour trying to convince them sleep would be better right now.  I have spent that same hour trying to pretend to be asleep.  Well, I am now at the kitchen table with a fresh cup coffee.  My wife is where she needs to be in a dark, quiet room - our room.  I hope she can sleep.  The two little lovelies who just had to get up are in the driveway in lawn chairs, looking at the stars.  As grumpy as the early hour makes me, it makes my heart feel good that my kids want to stargaze.  

Yesterday also made me happy.  We are now into the school routine.  Igor (11) and Henry (6) are in school five days a week.  Merone (4) goes to preschool four days a week.  Fridays are for Merone and daddy.  Yesterday, we began at the playground.

It was packed with parents and kids.  Some parents are with their kids the whole time, climbing on the equipment, running, chasing, playing tag, laughing.  Other parents stick to the sidelines.  I'd say 75%-85% are in this second category, the watchers.  I am among the players, like a little kid, only 5'9".  

I noticed one large group of parents at picnic tables who were obviously together.  Five or six families had come to the playground as a group.  It appeared to me that this was a regular Friday thing for them.  They were all moms except for one couple, a mom and dad.  The group seemed to be mostly uninterested in what the kids were doing.  And it got me to wondering if my wife and I "hover" too much.  

At one point, three little boys, maybe 3 or 4 years old, were fighting over toy dump trucks.  I watched them for several minutes.  Some pretty good wrestling happened without any blows being thrown.  The parents in the group were all enjoying talking with one another and had no interest in settling this and maybe even no knowledge it was happening.  But I watched.  Finally, one of the three, in desperation, ran to his parents, the mom and dad.

Before he could speak, the mom said, "I don't even want to hear it."  Without making eye contact, the dad barked, "go play."  I continued to watch the boy.  He accepted his parents orders.  He went back and to the boys and the struggle continued.  Finally, all three gave up and moved on to other things.  It is a playground, so there are plenty of other things.  

Watching this, I know I would have intervened in the wrestling match if it had been my kids.  Is it better that the parents let these children work out the conflict on their own?  What I could not discern is this.  Am I too quick to rescue kids when they cannot solve conflicts with their siblings or peers?  Were these parents on the sidelines wise or lazy?  I still am not sure.  But I do know I am quite happy that yesterday, I was in the game with Merone.

After the playground was done our real fun began.  We went for a hike at the botanical gardens.  It's about one mile through the woods, an absolutely beautiful walk.  And yesterday was a perfect day, brilliant sunshine, warm, but not too hot.  We walked up the hill and she started firing questions.  

"Is walking good for you?"  

"Yes, honey, walking is very good for you."

"Is running good for you?"

"Oh yes, that is excellent exercise."

'"Is water good for you?"  


"How about milk?"


Then she bold declared, "I am going to run up the hill."  And she did for a while.  Then she rode on my shoulders.  Then she ran some more.

We came to the creek and crossed over it on a fallen tree.  We were about 5 feet up in the air over the creek. She was pretty unsure about that.  Then we went down next to stream and threw rocks in to see the splash.  I have done this with all my children.  I remember 7 years ago, when we first moved to Chapel Hill.  My oldest, a 5th graders, was 4 then, Merone's age.  I had done this with him and now, seven years later with her.  That was a happy and good memory.

Soon, our shoes were off and Merone and I were wading in the stream.  It didn't take lone and Merone was lowering her body into the water, up to her neck.  My philosophy is I'll allow wet clothes in exchange for adventure and fun memories.  Clothes can be washed and dried.  I don't want to miss a good time because I was too careful.  I try to keep watches, wallets, cell phones, and shoes dry.  Everything else is fair game.

Merone and I had a blast exploring that stream. She touched a frog.  We watched little fish squirting this way and that way.  "Daddy, come here."  "Daddy, this way."  She was squealing with delight.  Up and down the creek bed, we waded and splashed and explored.  I was keeping my eyes peeled for just one thing that could ruin the day - snakes.

Often, I am not that careful when it comes to snakes.  However, one of my friends just proposed to his girlfriend.  He had a romantic setting.  They hiked up to a mountain top and he had champagne and flowers and a ring.  It was perfect until on their hike down, she was bitten by a rattle snake!  She will be OK and they'll have one of the more memorable engagement stories you can come up with.  But, I did not want my perfect day with Merone to end up with us seeing how fast I could drive us to the ER.  So I watched.  And sure enough, in a spot where five minutes before we have been tormenting some fish, I saw a snake peeking from underneath a rock to see if it was safe to come out.  

That was my cue.  I am not scared of snakes, but I am not reckless either.  I used to be.  As 19 years old, fresh out of army basic training, I might have grabbed the thing.  On this day I said, "Merone, lunch time."

It was beautiful.  I think God for it.  I am already thinking about what our next Friday adventure will be.

1 comment:

  1. Your description took me right there in the creek with you. What a special time for you and Merone together. That's solid gold for your relationship and her growth. Way to go, Dad!