Saturday, January 31, 2004
Hello Daddy, Goodbye Childhood
There are lots of things that happen in life that are nice to remember. There are other things that are important to remember. And there are still other things that if forgotten constitute an emotional crime. The events of last night and today fall into the latter category.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, I had a rather harried and hurried day getting home. However, I did get home. And what a home coming it was. My plane arrived earlier than expected and so when I landed there was no one to greet me. However, I knew they were on their way. I disembarked and headed to the luggage claim carousel. As I waited for my luggage, I kept one eye on the street outside anticipating the arrival of my beautiful family. In short order I saw the van drive by and knew they had arrived. I went outside to see what would happen as I knew it was going to be a contest to see who could get to me first. Mason was the first one out of the car. However, instead of running he looked at me and stood there. I think he didn't realize it was me a t first. Samuel and Olivia got out and that's when Mason sprinted and hit me full steam ahead. As he jumped into my arms it was all I could do to stay on my feet. He was immediately followed by The other tow kids. Kisses and hugs all around. What a great moment! I grabbed Samuel and pulled him in close rubbing his crew cut hair and loving every second of it. Olivia seemed so small in comparison to her brothers but so much bigger than when I last saw her. She gave me about 300 of the best kisses I've ever had and said that we had to go home right then so I could giver her "training wheel lessons", which is to say she wanted me to teach her how to ride her bike like a big girl. I had to explain to her that it was too late and that we could do it the next day or some other time. She seemed OK with that.
But there was a child missing. I looked up and along came Wyatt. Except he wasn't running. He seemed to be prompting his mother to go ahead and greet me before him. She pushed him forward however and he gave me a world class hug. It was the kind of hug that makes you feel like a dad. It was a hug stories are written about. He held onto me and I to him for what seemed like ages. He's getting so big and I just held him savoring the fact that I can still hold him. Later I learned that the reason for his hesitation was that he had told his Mom that he would greet me last because, "the first shall be last and the last shall be first."
The ride home from the airport was unbelievable great with all four kids telling me everything that had happened during the previous six months I had been gone. All talking at the same time each trying to be the loudest and all talking faster than the speed of sound. I would not have traded the noise and confusion for all the peace and quiet in the world.
Since I'm married to the world's greatest woman (who just happens to be a hottie, too) I was ostensibly supposed to sleep in on my first full day home. In stead I was awakened by a smiling little face, all dressed and ready to go sometime around dawn. This was to be the big day. "Daddy" the face said, "it's time for my training wheel lessons!" No if's, and's, or but's. Today was the day. She was certain there wasn't even time for me to get dressed and have some coffee first. Just lessons, right now! Well, somehow I convinced her that if she could wait an hour or two we'd get it done before noon. So I got some coffee, some breakfast, and a shower.
Finally, the moment was upon us. Olivia and I headed out to the back yard to remove her training wheels and begin the tedious process of running up and down the street until that wonderful moment when she could do it alone. This would be my fourth time at this. I knew from experience with each of the boys that in order to get her the confidence necessary to go forward, stop, and turn would require that I spend most of the morning (at least an hour) running from the sign near the corner to the van near the Madkins house. This would be repeated over and over with me holding onto her a little less each time until finally rode her bike all by herself. So, with that expectation in mind we mounted the street and, with her pointed in the right direction I gave a few last minute pointers. "Keep peddling and don't worry I'll be holding you the whole time so if you start to fall I'll catch you. Are you ready?" I asked. In a shaky little voice mixed with fear and excitement she said, "I'm ready." So she started peddling and I started running. The next 20 yards were scary and fun and over almost immediately. "Good Job! You did great!" I said and proceeded to pick up both child and bike and turn them to face the other way. "Let's do it again" I said and grabbed her shirt as before ready to run. "Let go dad. I got it." she said confidently. It'll be a good lesson to have one small crash, I thought. It won't hurt her, only let her know she's not invincible. And with that I let go and she proceeded to peddle. And she didn't stop. She kept going and going. She even stopped and turned around and went around corners and probably would have attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon if it had been in front of her. Man, I was jipped! One lap holding on! What's that? I was supposed to be running all morning getting impatient and upset that she wasn't getting it. What happened here? My little perfect girl is growing up. And for the rest of the day, she was glued to her bike. Back and forth, around the block, each time she passed me she smiled as if to taunt me and rub my pride in her success.
I couldn't have been prouder of her.