Last weekend we took our children to Disney’s California Adventure. It was a lot of fun for many different reasons, primarily the joy of watching our children take it all in.
One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about being a father is watching my children grow and develop. My son is just about 4.5 and my daughter is 9 months old, so they are in two very different places. However they were both old enough to show their excitement at being there and interest in many of the things we saw.
As we walked through the park I watched both of their faces very closely just to try and soak it all up as they absorbed being transported into a new world. This was very different for them and they are not in a place or time in which magic can be explained. For now the Great Oz is a real wizard and they are not trying to pull off the curtains that conceal him.
It was a bit surreal to me to be one of the parents that I used to mock when I was younger. I was the guy carrying the backpack full of crap. I was the dad yelling for everyone to get closer so that I could fit them into a picture. I was the guy who at times looked like he was ready to run away screaming in the night.
By the time evening fell I was happy to be sitting at the restaurant with a glass of wine that was followed by three cups of coffee. It was very pleasant. We were even more pleased when they told us that our seats on the patio provided an excellent view of Disney’s Electrical Parade because we had a goal of watching it with the children.
The hardest part about it was waiting for the parade. At one point in time my daughter got fussy so her mother decided to take her to see some of the shops. As they walked away I watched them and it wasn’t hard to picture the day in which mother and daughter will really hit the mall together.
That left about 35 minutes for me to entertain my son. For a little boy he demonstrates remarkable patience and is quite good at entertaining himself, but some of that ability deteriorates with fatigue and by that point in the day he was quite tired.
So I picked him up and set him down in my lap for some father/son time. We spoke about the rides we had been on and what he had seen, the games that he played and what he really liked about the day.
As we spoke his head slumped against my chest and I could feel him beginning to consider the option of sleeping in my arms. But I didn’t want him to miss the parade and was concerned that if he fell asleep that early he might wake up at 5 am the next day, so I made a point of keeping him awake.
I turned him around so that he was facing me and we could make eye contact. I told him how much I loved him and that he should never forget that. And then I spoke with him about learning and told him that for the rest of his life he should learn something new every day.
He listened intently and when I finished he nodded his head and with all the seriousness and sincerity a boy can muster he said “Daddy, I’ll never forget that.”
And you know what, I’ll never forget that moment either. It is locked up in the vault in my head, a very special moment in time.