"It was the best of times the worst of times" is a well known openeing to an epic tale. While I suspect that the tale of my son and I will be less renowed it will be no less an epic. I love him dearly but like his grandfather I find my son to be a mystery in many ways. I think I am making more mistakes with him than I am with his sister, and I hope that one day when he looks at his son he will do a much better job than his father.
I can remember two moments when I felt at both the bottom and the top of the mountain of fatherhood.
The Best of Times
We were at the state fair in Minnesota when my son Scott was three. All day long we went on rides and ate tons of junk food but my son had one ride he wanted to go on - "The Merry Go Round". It was getting late, the park was closing and we had not gotten to that ride yet.
I could tell that the whole day would be ruined for him if that one ride was missed and as each section of the park shut off its lights his disappointment grew. I scooped him up and we rushed to the exit gate where this ride was and luckily snagged the nights last ride!
The lights were on, the music blaring as I held my son while the horse he was on went round and round, up and down. We laughed and waved to the crowd as they blurred past and it was a perfect moment.
Later as we were walking out to the car he leaned into my neck and whispered, "Dad you're the greatest" just before he fell asleep.
I was the hero to my son and there is just no topping that.
The Worst of Times.
The year my son was ten I was having a hard time with life in general and it seemed that every little thing was just setting me off in petty rages. Work, family and my walk with Christ all seemed to be going into such chaos and I could not get a hold on things let alone my anger.
On one Saturday I took my son out for a round of golf thinking that we could use some bonding time but very quickly I could see that his heart just was not into it. I got him a lunch and tried to be up-beat but the more I tried the more he seemed to shut down. I was too stubborn to change "The Plan" though and off we went to the first tee.
We were both playing badly and he was sluggishly moving to his ball after each shot and it was driving me crazy. All I wanted was a day together with my son and it seemed he just was not meeting me half way. At some point he needed to use the bathroom for the 2nd time in an hour and I just lost it. I yelled at him to pick up his ball and lets go home.
Fuming on the drive home I could not let go of the disappointment the day had turned out to be. We arrived home and I took his golf bag and threw it across the garage into a corner and said "Thanks for ruining the day" and stomped off to my room. Not my best moment.
I wish I could take that day back and do it over. If I could it would have started this way. "Good morning son. What do you want to do today?" Then we would have done that together.
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Michael, you touched my heart with this article, we have all been there as parents, "The best of times, and the worst of times." How important it is to sure our hard learned lessons in the hopes our experiences just might help someone else. This would be a great article for a Christian parenting magazine. Blessings, Rita