New York Stories: ‘Kings for the Moment’

One day I’ll fully understand the tug of war with kids. Just the other day, a coworker and I were chuckling over an anecdote. She said that one day I’d understand: When you think you have the upper hand, you don’t and probably will — at least not for a while.

For the moment, I’m going to enjoy living vicariously through my family and friends. One of the more recent and reiterated lessons of pre-parenthood are the polysemantic glares. The glare the child sees can be interpreted differently — when intended — by another adult.

Rolling of the eyes can let the child and adult know there is a growing annoyance. However, this will signal to the child “Stop doing what you’re doing, or you’re going to get it.” However, the child will save that irritating notion for a later date. To the childless adult recipient: “You don’t understand, but someday you will.”

I’m sure there is a lot of joy with watching your offspring grow up. There is a lot of joy being the outsider, too. There is that question of “Is this for real? I remember when they were born. I held them in my arms, propped them on my knee, and now the two are metaphorically and literally pulling my arms — in the sense of leading — to show me which video game is better.”

There is that joy of being able to not sink to their level, but click to a different mindset with maintaining the appropriateness of the responsible adult. You can play a game and act ridiculous, but there is a pocket full of infinite rationality cards to pull from when thing get too crazy. On each card is reasoning or a lesson to give the youth that helps back the adult opinion.

Sometimes the child won’t see the reasoning until a later date. It happens. We’ve all been there, and some (sorry) most of us have grown up; we’ve done so maybe vigilantly, but always valiantly.

Magnolia Bakery gave us treats, handed them to us, and then we at them... But we paid first.
Magnolia Bakery gave us treats, handed them to us and then we ate them… But we paid first.

After we hit  up Magnolia Bakery, after eating our treats, I dead-lifted the boy about thirty times with each arm, swinging him. I felt a tad bit better post-eating that red velvet cupcake.

The phone call that I took was in regard to work, setting up an interview for a story. For the fleeting moment there was a little more self worth than usual. Maybe it was New York. Perhaps it was a little bit of both: I’m doing business in The Big Apple (in a sense).

Taking work to the city was purposeful. I kept on top of the tasks, despite the sickly working technology. It just felt good to accomplish tasks while away — on vacation.

Then it was off to the park, Central Park, the six of us. Of course, there were playgrounds, but the most appealing was the gigantic rocks.

(My inner child: “They were as tall as skyscrapers!”)

The same opinion and vision was felt towards the snow piles in the neighborhood’s cul de sacs,

When one goes up, the others, especially boys, have to follow. We have this internal desire to prove our worth. Carter has it, and his scaling the heap of natural landscape allowed me to take on that challenge.

(My inner adult: “Well, if he can do it, I can do it. I can at least try at least. He’s looking at me, expecting me to try. Do it.” )

(My inner child: “This is not problem. Just don’t slip and fall. Your insurance sucks.”)

The feat was accomplished successfully; the little dude and I stood atop, looking over the section of the city. Well, we made it. Becky called up, let us know of the photo op. Make a stupid face, move your arms. Moment captured.

The last few times I’ve come down, the focus was adult stuff and not this letting go. I stood upon the rock with my hands upon my hips and the adult me took the moment in.

Climbing to the top of the heap was very much a preconceived notion, a foreshadowing, of the years to come — hopefully sooner than later. When my years of fatherhood begin, I’ll clearly be an instigator at times. Sometimes the future children will have a scraped knee, and maybe they’ll break something. It’s the fact of trying, falling, failing, learning, and trying again.

As adults, we’re still going through the same processes.

I know I’m going to want to be the perfect person for my kids, but I probably won’t be. My wife won’t be perfect either. Wherever we may end up living will have its pros and cons. We’re going to raise imperfect children who will most likely drive us up the wall numerous times, who will make us worried and frustrated, who will disappoint and generate pride, but they will always make us incredibly happy.

They will read. No excuses about that. Outdoor play will be encouraged instead of iPad play. Sure, there are educational games, but nothing beats outside and interaction.

So Carter and I essentially roared atop of the rock hill. It wasn’t even a huge hill. But the exaggerations are appropriate.

(My inner adult: “Exude creativity! Imagination has no limits!”)

(My inner child: “Make pincers out of your fingers and pretend like you’re crushing ant-sized people.”)

For the fleeting moment: We stood on top of the world, and I wasn’t alone.

Cover picture: Photo by Rebecca Rent

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