When I was a kid I couldn't wait for the next "big thing". I wanted tomorrow to come so that I could get to the next thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to be "big" or "older". I was eager for it. I couldn't wait. Many older folks would tell me to "slow down" or "just enjoy today". Of course they could stay up past eight, eat ice cream whenever they wanted, had finished school, could ride their bike out of sight of the house, didn't have to come home when the street lights came on, watch TV all night if they wanted, could drive a car etc. What did they know? They could do all the fun stuff.
I on the other hand couldn't. I would round up my age when people asked. I was almost six since I was five and a half. The year I turned fifteen I was almost sixteen the whole year. How old are you? Almost sixteen. When is your birthday? 362 more days. Eighteen was going to be golden, except it wasn't. I legally became an adult, got out of school and had to start planning my "real life". The upside of eighteen was this girl I was dating. I thought we were it. I had every intention of marrying her. We even took a month long trip to Europe together, good times. She went off to U of M and that, as they say was that. Sure we dated that year but when it was said and done, it was done and nothing else was to be said. Grown up and grown up heartaches go together.
Twenty-one would be the next big milestone. My birthday was a major blizzard, three feet of wet heavy snow. The whole state basically closed down. I spent the day in my rented house in what was a working class neighborhood that was only working on becoming a slum. No party, no booze, no big deal either, I had been drinking in bars since I was 16. Something happened that year, drinking/partying lost most of its appeal for me. In fact the last time I got drunk was a year or two latter. That wasn't partying, that was trying to kill the pain of having a series of bad choices destroy the second great love of my life. Several years latter "The Next Big Thing", marriage. Then no more big things for ten years.
Now I have kids of my own.
Me and the Mrs are a bit of the odd ones out in our age/social groups. People our age are having their kids graduate college or are almost ready for the last one to leave home in short order. We are potty training with two to three more years of diapers for the youngest.
The next big thing in my life? Tomorrow.
I'm off work for a couple of days. I called the wife at work and told her to cancel day care. It's fun day with daddy. Daddy, by the way, is my name in real life.
Every day is an adventure.
Every pillow fight an epic battle.
Every trip to the China Buffet (the only restaurant we can go to anymore) is a major feast.
Every tickle fight is a laugh fest.
Every trip to the park, a safari.
Every fish caught is a whale.
Every smile is art.
Every storybook a literary masterpiece.
Every time a boy jumps on my back, I'm a racing stallion.
Every game we play is the world championship.
Every day I'm daddy is ambrosia, and I am drunk on it.
I was at Sam's club with a cart full of diapers. I was walking out and a guy and his wife were walking in. He called out to me "I'm so glad that part of my life is over". I smiled back and said, "I'm not, I love every minute of being a dad". I do too. Tonight we went out to China Buffet. We used to eat at nicer places. Now when we go out being able to say, "show daddy what you want", is a necessity; otherwise I just bought a meal that the kid won't eat. The ice cream topping bar and almond cookies are sure sellers for the under 48 inches crowd. Next time I'm going to see if I can get my senior discount. After the mess we left I doubt they let us back in. I had to pay with a credit card too. Normally I hate to do that. I had no choice. It was after 5pm and I don't think my banker would have brought me enough cash to cover the tip I had to leave after both my kids finished redecorating the place in lo mein and melted ice cream with sprinkles and ice water.
Yes I said ice water. One of the things moms "teach" their children is that whenever you eat out at a Chinese place you must get your after dinner clean up via either a.) a napkin dipped in ice cold water, or b.) the spit bath. My mother did this to me. My grandmother did it to her. Apparently this female phenomenon was genetically passed on to my wife from her mother as well. I know I have seen her sister do it to her kids. I know its a rite of childhood. Res Jr has learned it too. In fact he has the ritual down so well that tonight he was handed some dry napkins to get the first round of gunk off. He finished that part of the deal, at least to his satisfaction. Then the little guy who is standing next to me in our both, grabs another napkin, reaches over to the full glass of ice water, that I wasn't done drinking, and proceeds to wring out a good half gallon worth of freezing water on my leg.
I felt myself getting mad, good and gosh darn spanking mad. I saw this little twinkle in my wife's eye. I saw a little tyke, in all earnestness doing his duty to get cleaned up, oblivious to the sudden case of involuntary hypothermia he was inflicting on his progenitor. He was being a helper, a good boy. I saw several tablespoons worth of sherbet and whipped cream with sprinkles that had been drizzled in a Picasso like pattern being effortlessly washed off the now slightly less stained seat on to the floor. I smiled to myself. I won't have to pay to have this seat professionally steamed cleaned after all.
Tonight was puzzles, tickle fight, then we picked out a pie recipe for mommy to make for daddy's birthday. There was a gang pile on daddy in the living room, some stories and a pillow fight and wrestling match, followed by a daddy supervised hose down in the shower, more stories, hugs, saying prayers and lights out.
Tomorrow is "fun day with daddy". It's the next big thing in my life. Unlike earlier chapters I'm in no rush to get on to bigger and better things. I am daddy, and I am quaffing this elixir as deeply and heartily as a man can. Too soon the cup will be empty.
Speaking of daddy's up coming birthday, when Res Jr is the same age as I am now, he'll likely have to change my diapers after feeding me ground up food from the buffet. If he ever tries to give me a spit bath at the table, he will get a good butt whopping of apocalyptic proportions. I won't care what the other geezers at the Golden Corral have to say about it either.