October 17, 2012

Perpetual Change

The babysitter lived just a few doors down the street. I worked at a management trainee job for little pay, the wife toiled at a bank. We didn't want to put the kid into daycare, but economics has a way of dictating life choices. I was usually off by 3:00, so I picked up my daughter from the babysitter each afternoon.

Hand in hand we crossed the street, my daughter and I, and walked home. If the weather was nice we would go to the park in my backyard.  Yes, a real city parked was just beyond my meager property line. I did not mind not having much lawn. Acres of tennis courts, fields and playground equipment were just feet away. I would push my daughter in the swing for what seemed like hours to my exhausted body. Twelve hour days, every day, do not give you energy to chase a two year old around the park. I loved every minute of it.

I still find it amazing that you can buy a lawnmower, a coffeemaker, a cheap skillet from WalMart and every package contains operating instructions.  Directions to care for a plain white undershirt are stenciled right under the Fruit of the Loom logo. But you go to the hospital, watch a baby slide from your wife's most private of spots, and presto-chango you are a parent! There is no manual in English and Spanish and French with unfathomable blow-up diagrams to direct you in the care and upbringing of a child. It is the toughest job I ever had. Put Tab A into Slot B. That was the easy enough.  The next 18 20 40 60 years is the hard part.

Even after picking up two more kids at the hospital I was still winging it as a parent. Even though all three of my children think they are grown up, I am still waking up a dad every day. As they too face struggles and life's challenges sans instruction book, I try and help and guide as best I can. I confess I still don't know what the Hell I am doing.

Life was much easier when all I had to do was make sure my daughter made it across the street on the trip home from the babysitters.  I long for simple times when I could push her in a swing, when her biggest challenge was getting a drink from the lion's head drinking fountain in the park behind my little house.. That hurdle I could help with. Now I watch my daughter and sans enter life's boxing ring on their own. I know how Mick felt when Rocky battled Creed.

Or my own Parents, watching me.


Ralphd00d said...

Oh, so true! Repetition helps a little bit as they grow up, but always they are different enough it makes some things new all over again...

DNR said...

Well said.
Watching a son prepare for and go off to war has been the hardest thing for me.
I honestly don't know how i survived. Probably only because he made it home fine.

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