There’s a little blond haired cutie wobbling around here this morning. He’s got that bow legged, pants full of diaper waddle, wandering from person to person amidst thoughts ranging from “isn’t he cute” to “where the heck is this kids parents”. From where I’m sitting, the little guy is an orphan. I assume a parent is somewhere in the place, hidden behind a couch or this music display featuring Neil Diamond and Carly Simon releases. To think that I’ve lived long enough to see them cool again….
Anyway, back to the youngster. It doesn’t seem that fear is in his vocabulary yet. Neither is discretion. He goes from one conversation to another, one table to another, not merely willing to be a spectator. He’s hitting, poking and conversing as he goes. It’s interesting to watch this interchange. You can instantly tell who amongst us has children, and who will be sticking with dogs. Some avoid him as if even the minutest of contact will turn them into one of him, while others openly engage him in face making games. He doesn’t discriminate though. One or the other, ignore him or engage him, he is making his own amusement.
I wonder what he’ll grow up to be. At what point, if any, will he lose that sense of adventure? Phil Collins is singing about “Throwing it all Away” in my headphones. I’ve seen so many do that in their lifetime. Will he be one of them, or will he take that same spirit that propels his diapered butt all over Starbucks this morning and lead others to adventure? At the same time, in regards to his Dad, who has suddenly emerged, I’m wondering if I’m watching a parental genius in action or someone to be judged as “too permissive”, clueless even. I walk the line between envy for the future that he has with him, and sympathetically remembering the mistakes I made as a dad to my own little diapered explorers.
I remember those days, though it was a long time ago, not as far back as Carly Simon and Neil Diamond to be sure, but still long ago. I remember little padded butts waddling optimistically around the rooms. I remember peek-a-boo games with strangers in the next booths. I’m sure of the “where the heck is this kids parents” moments”. Despite my best efforts and pathetic attempts, my kids have grown. They have their own personalities and dreams. They have their own faults and they have their own strengths. They are who they are, in large part, because of an accumulation of these types of Starbucks moments and opportunities to explore the world. Each one mattered. Each one counted. Each one accumulated to the greater sum of who they became. Some I understood and embraced fully and others I fell victim to the clueless dad syndrome. Most of their good qualities I attribute directly to their mom, most of their bad I can honestly see as mirrors of myself, but all of their qualities, good and bad, make up the whole of who they’ve become, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.