Just the other day I said to my wife, Emily, “I really like being a dad.” I will tell our oldest daughter L that from time to time as well. I find that there are some events that take place, some moments along the journey of the day that really remind me that I really love being dad. Some of the things that typify this experience are things I remember doing with my dad(s): wrestling, making tents, playing on the playground and working on bikes are a few that come to mind. There are other days and other experiences that are completely new and these too have a way of helping me see, even if the glass through which I look is dark, what is so great about fatherhood.
Today was one of those days. I had been planning all week to take L down to our local bike shop, Camas Bike and Sport, to join in their one year anniversary festivities. I’ve been noticing that L has been showing interest in bikes a lot lately. She likes to check out mine and ask me about it, she likes to look at other people’s bikes, and we have an old, non-working, bike a neighbor left behind that she consistently asks to ride. So my idea was to hook up our burley trailer so that she and I could ride to the bike shop together, hang out, eat some free grub and let her do a little “window shopping.”
Well, for one, every moment with a 2.5 year old is a potential treasure trove of stories waiting to happen. She helped me assemble the hitch so to my bike so we could connect the trailer, all the while explaining to me how to do it with arms waving as she paced back and forth as if she was explaining a matter of grave importance. Then, when my hands were to big to pull a spring out of the gear shaft it was jammed in, she was able to grab it with her tiny fingers with no problem. Except one thing. She said, “Dad, hands dirty. Want to wash them!” Okay, not quite my little greasemonkey yet, but then again, I couldn’t wait to go wash my hands either. 😉
She loved riding in the trailer and frequently commanded, as only someone riding in something that looks way too much like an ancient Roman chariot would, “faster, faster, want to go faster.”
When we got to the bike shop we said hello to a few friends there. Checked out all the fancy bikes, while desperately trying to ward off envy, enjoyed eating some tacos provided by the Mexican restaurant across the street. (I put in a few raffle tickets to win a new commuter bike, but since I haven’t received any phone calls since yesterday, I’ll take that as an indication of how the raffle turned out.) I don’t think L has ever eaten hard-shelled tacos before (she’s had plenty of Mexican in her life however) and she loved it. But one of the things that cracked me up was that she only wanted to eat the bottom part of the taco were all the meat was (not something your vegetarian mother likes to hear!). And lastly, I got her to try out some different bikes. I am kind of interested in one of those balance bikes. I guess the theory goes, that kids are better off learning balance first on bikes with no peddles. Once they get that down (by age 3 for many) peddling is really easy. Sounds good to me. So we tried some out. L really only liked it if I would pull her around on it with her legs up in the air. Finally, she said, “Dad, I want a real bike.” As she ran over to the Barbie pink two-wheeler with training wheels (also happened to be twice as expensive as the balance bike!). So we rode that around for awhile. She’s been talking about riding bikes all day long now.
When we got home to take a nap I was pretty tired. So when I tried putting her to bed, I kept falling asleep. she’d grab my face and turn it toward her to check and see if I was still awake. I fell asleep while telling her a storied about a little girl who rode her pink bike back and forth to school and all the adventures she went on.