This past Sunday the clocks needed to be set forward for Daylight Saving Time, my daughter asked me to take her to the park, and my wife asked for the third time this week if I would mow the back yard. These are sure signs that spring is trying to poke its head out from under the blanket of winter weather.
Well my phone is my primary time-keeper, so it sorted itself out, and I had no desire to spend any part of the day walking behind a noisy machine that spewes exhaust fumes and grass clippings at me on my first weekend day off in close to a year; so, a father/ daughter day at the park seemed about my speed. This also provided me with a convenient excuse not to venture to the urgent care place to investigate this respiratory illness that has been causing me some discomfort for nearly two weeks now.
The local park is a wonderful affair with a large well maintained, and rather cool looking playground and jungle gym.
Once we arrived my role in the afternoons activities was reduced to that of pusher of the swing and I watched as my daughter chased after children her own age and showed off to the younger ones and tried to coax the shy ones out of their shells. While I love watching my little extrovert at work I couldn’t help feeling ignored and left out. I tried to strike up conversation with some of the other parents but most were too busy hovering a few feet away from their kids in case, heaven forfend, they fall, or try to go down the slide backwards.
Extrication from the playground was made possible by the promise of ice cream. a dirty trick I know, but jealousy got the best of me and, I wanted be able to actually talk with the daughter I barely see. A half mile walk was a pleasant way to recap the playtime and speculate on our ice cream choices, I even received an unsolicited “I love you dad” and a huge smile.
Over our dishes of frozen sugar we discussed the relative merits of vanilla chocolate chip, versus strawberry, and it was agreed that the chocolate chip was the clear winner. The remaining discussion ranged from what was the best part about school to the impending birthday she had coming up in just a few days with, including few direct statements about what she would like.
When presented with the option of taking the direct or scenic route home my girl chose the longer of the two, the way she hadn’t seen before. The extra time was filled with sudden interest in when I was a boy and where I grew up.
I told her some about the small town where I spent my childhood and the schools I went to. How, like her, recess was my favorite class. It led to discussion about how even though she had two aunts that lived up north only one of them was my sister. It took two tries for her to get her head wrapped around the fact that her other aunt was my sister’s wife. In the end she simply accepted this, even though it was outside of her realm of what was typically expected.
An awkward moment came when she asked about my parents. Honesty made explain that they has died. The conversation included the fact that my father died of cancer caused by smoking.
I quit about two years ago, my wife has not. So when Kate pointed this out I just told her that I would like her mom to stop smoking, she just wasn’t ready to do it yet, and left it at that. My daughter asked me is she was going to smoke when she was older, and I said that she didn’t have to, and I rather that she didn’t because it was really bad for her. She thought about it for a moment, with a serious look on and finally agreed.
The seriousness of the moment was broken when she realized, with an excited gasp, that our long meandering journey had taken us all the way back to the other side of the park. The sun was going down and most of the other kids had gone home, but we stopped and played some more anyway.
It was early evening before we set off home to a dinner of take out from our favorite taqueria. As we strolled I was satisfied in the knowledge that, time would march on despite the pointless lunacy of mucking about with clocks, that I had properly shirked my landscaping duties, and that for one glorious rare afternoon I got to spend a few hours just being a dad.
Just one thing still puzzles me and it has been bothering me for a long time…