Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rock...Throw Sky...Wow

Noticing his uncle wasn’t fully understanding, he said it again with a little more emphasis, “OCK.”
“Throw sky,” he added to help clarify the instructions. His hand was lifted up containing the rock that needed to be jettisoned from the area. “Ock. Throw sky.”
Jeremy reached down, took the rock and like a good uncle threw it as high and far as he could.
“Wow.” The word was drawn out in true amazement. Reading his face you’d think he was standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon or staring at the Northern Lights. To Caleb this was a life changing event. His uncle was the best rock thrower in the whole world.
And then just as fast as the amazement covered his face it was gone and Caleb was bent over scouring the ground for the next perfect rock.
“Ock,” he said having found it. His hand again reached up to his uncle to hand him the next rock. “Throw sky.”
I think Caleb’s goal of clearing the driveway at Eegeebegee of rocks via Jeremy’s right arm caused Jeremy to throw more rocks than he had intended. But I know it meant a lot to his nephew. I know this because every few days or so, even still, Caleb will come up to me and tell the story.
“Ock. Throw sky,” he’ll say matter-of-factly.
“You threw rocks in the sky?” I’ll reply.
“Who’d you throw them with?”
“Air me”
“Uh huh, air me. Throw sky.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just Call Me Dad

Recently, Caleb and I took a trip to Eegeebegee (the final destination of my parent’s life-long, military led journey around the world) without Amber. The prospect of Amber being away from Caleb for eight days, I believe a day and a half was the previous record, bothered her almost as much as the fact that we were traveling via airline.

If Amber were to write a dictionary, this is what the definition of “airline” would look like.
Airline: air·line [air-lahyn] – noun 1. a system furnishing air transport, usually scheduled, between specified points with semi-unfatal results; legal genocide of nature defiant persons 2. airliner – large, wing-laden tube known to explode randomly with high regularity; large fireball, full of passengers, falling from the sky; death trap

My only fear about the flight was what to do with Caleb for an hour and a my lap...crammed in a tiny airline seat. It turns out that neither my fear nor those of Caleb’s mother were necessary in that we completed both flights without dying or even being in a near-fatal accident and Caleb slept the entire flight, both ways. My strategic planning of flights early in the morning and late in the evening might have had something to do with the second part. The variation in definition of “airline” between Webster’s dictionary and Amber’s might have had something to do with the first part.

The time Caleb and I spent between our two death defying flights will remain in my memory as some of my favorite moments spent with my son. To see the joy I saw shining through the face of this caged bird now freed has changed something inside of me forever. Two years into fatherhood and it still hadn’t completely sunk in. Sure, holding Caleb for the first time was surreal and life changing. And sharing a father-son nap on the couch brought a peace over me that I had never felt before. But being confined to chasing my son up and down the hallway or around the park just didn’t allow the Dad inside to escape. Being with Caleb in the wide open country with all the rocks and ponds and creeks and fish and turtles and bugs and air...I felt like I could be Dad. I now had a real opportunity to teach my son the important things in life like how to play in mud puddles, how to get more distance on a rock throw and how to enjoy being dirty.

I believe these are the truly important things we Dads teach our sons. All other life lessons they’ll have the opportunity to learn the same way we did, experience. But these lessons require Dad. These lessons are teaching much more than how to get dirty or how to be a boy. These lessons are teaching our boys how to be a Dad. These early memories will mold our sons.

The times we take them fishing and spend the entire time tying their lines and getting them unhung, neglecting our own fishing desire. The times we turn the TV off to tickle tears out of them. The times we come home from work exhausted and then go out and play full time quarterback for them and their friends. These times they’ll remember. These times will guide them and encourage them to help their sons become Dads.