My seven year old had a day which might have been quite disappointing for him. Near the end of it his friends were leaving to watch fireworks. Not only was he no longer going to be playing with them. They were headed off to do something as cool as fireworks. And him?
He was headed to another boring night at home. His brother and sister (my other two kids) are away at my mom’s. His mom (my wife) was out with the family car. It was going to be me and him. And to him, I’m sure if felt like everybody else in the world got to do cooler stuff than him.
“What can we do?” I asked him as he wailed on the bed. “Can we walk to the park?”
They just rebuilt this playground near us. I thought I was being a pretty hip dad. It was less than an hour untill bed. This was a bit of an out-of-the-ordinary treat. At the time, I thought, to judge by his grin, that he was just admiring my wackiness.
As we assented to this plan, I was watching the gears turning in his head. I figured out why as he shyly, slyly shared a piece of information with me as we headed to the door.
“Uhhm, dad. Just so you know… it’s raining.”
I fed into his scheming ways tonight. We walked in the rain to the park. If it was a scene in a movie, if I was a super cool dad, I’d have been splashing along with him. I’m not quite that cool. I found a tree which offered me shelter. And he played around. The slide was super-charged with water. The new park equipment was given this whole extra dismention. He had it all to himself. Turns out most people are smart enough to come in out of the rain.
He played for a while. We decided to walk past home to our favorite little dump of a Chinese food restaurant for a second dinner that was after his normal bedtime. The fact that we were wholly unprepared for the rain made it better, somehow. I was in sandals. We were both in shorts. The rain soaked our hair and coated my glasses.
We shared General Goa’s chicken, shrimp Lo Mein, rice, and an orange soda. It’s awesome to hear him read the fortune inside his cookie and hear him pronounce even the tough words right. It’s so cool to discuss what the silly abstractions mean, and to hear him puzzle out how fortune cookies are just pretend anyway.
On the way home he got a little spooked by barking dogs and the way the streets look different at night. He let me hold his hand for a while. And then he found an excuse to pull it away rather than just grabbing it away.
I tucked him in bed a few minutes ago. And he said something to me. He said “Dad, thanks for giving me more than I needed tonight.”
And that’s most of the reason I’m sharing this all. I’m not bragging. This whole night was me at my fatherly best. More often my parenting style is closer to Homer Simpson than Mr. Cleaver.
It occured to me that we have a heavenly father. What he has for us isn’t just enough. He’s got more than what we need. He’s over the top and gratitious, decadent, and so very good, all of the time.