I spent a weekend, July 2010 at an amusement park, Kings Dominion – Doswell, VA (A haven for the rollercoaster lovers) with my 9 year old son and we had a blast. We took part in a birthday celebration for my best friend’s son who just turned 10. The group consisted of my friend’s brothers and their families and during the day my son basically forgot he had a dad as he enjoyed being in the company of other little people. So much so, that I would have to ask if he’ll ride with me. I was given the look that said, ‘C’mon dad I’m enjoying this with my friends. Yes my feelings were hurt but I got over it, because in the end on a couple of the rides it became a numbers issue and he had to settle for riding with his dad. YES! I got to ride with my buddy, my son.
The most memorable moment of the day came when we were in line to get on the Intimidator 305 (that’s right you have to include the number 305 when you mention this ride, best coaster ride ever!). Because we were riding the front seats we stood in the front row line for about one and a half hours and up until the last 10 minutes my son made it clear he would be riding the front seat with the birthday boy. To my surprise he walked back towards me and said, “Dad, I’m going to ride with you.” He doesn’t know how happy and proud he made his dad when he let it be known he’ll ride with me instead of his buddy.
I can’t help but reflect on what I consider a precious moment in both our lives, because of the kind of relationship that’s been nurtured by my desire to be the best role model I can be to him as he continues to grow and become a better man than I some day. From the day that I found out I would become a father, I made every effort to be there for him. I was there for his mom through the entire pregnancy through his first breath out the womb. And from that day forth I’ve continued to be there for him every step of the way.
There are several reasons why I’ve made it my priority to be there for him; 1) Responsibility, I help bring him into this world 2) Dreamt of this day. I always wanted to be a father 3) although I grew up in a home with both parents; I didn’t get what it is I continue to give my son daily, my time. This is what I want to focus on in my reflecting on this precious moment of being an instrumental role in his development.
First of all, I commend my father for what he did to provide for our family. I grew up in a home of 5 kids (3 brothers, a sister and myself) and I can’t even imagine what it is I’ll have to do if I had to provide for a family of 7, 5 kids and a wife. For me, it’s been hard enough raising my only child. So I thank you dad for all you’ve done--the sacrifices you had to make to see that food was on the table, to clothe us, and etc.
I titled this reflection, trading places because I am no longer just a son to a father but a father to my son and it’s truly been a blessing that I don’t take for granted. I’ve been there for him every step of the way. He doesn’t have to worry if I’ll show up for an important event for him. (School event, volunteering at his school, field trips, sporting events, and etc) or the simple act of showing up to eat lunch with him (I’m enjoying it while I can; he’s getting to be at that “I don’t need you showing up for lunch dad, I’m a big kid now” age.)
I longed for the day that I could do a ‘do over’ so to speak. That is, to be the kind of dad I felt was missing in my life. I love my father dearly but I could have used a lot more of his time, like showing up for my sporting events. To be able to look up in the stands and hear him cheering me on, to have him be able to say he’s proud of me on site, not after the fact. I wanted more from him in just keeping a roof over our heads, I wanted more of his time to show me to the way. All I’m left with my memories of him are him coming home from his long day at work to shower and get dressed and go out for the evening. By the time he made it home, we were in bed sleep.
I’m so thankful for this opportunity to trade places and become the father to my son that will help nurture his growth. To be by his side as he learns the ways of what a father should be to a son. An example to his finding his way in this world we all live in.