Follow the Leader: On Being a Dad

Leader of the Playground
Leader of the Playground

Once when the girl was still not quite three and the boy was happiest in his car seat carrier, we were traveling from Georgia and stopped at McDonald’s. Cause you know, you’ve just got to stop at McDonald’s. Doesn’t matter if you’re hungry (it’s actually better if you’re not). Doesn’t matter if you’re less than an hour from the end of an eight hour drive.

The playground under the golden arches is a siren song to bored ears.

So, ya stop, and ya play. Resistance is futile.

Thing is, with any playground, you’re never really sure what you’re going to get. Sometimes the kids are awesome; sometimes they’re not. So especially when the girl is barely big enough to climb the slide on her own, you watch and listen.

Besides, it’s McDonald’s. What else are you going to do? Read the menu?

So on this stop, the girl is easily five years younger than anyone else playing, and we’re watching closely as they play tag.

When you have to make use of every muscle in your body to move from one step to another, you tend to get tagged. A lot.

Yet she’s having fun, which is good. There is laughter, which is great. My girl is happy, which is heaven.

Until the big kids decide to play a different game.

Being old and crusty, on the outside of childhood looking in, I don’t have a clue what the change in the game was. It still looked like tag to me, but for whatever reason, the girl had had enough. And so, at almost three, she stands to make her speech:

“No, I don’t want to play that. I want to play follow the leader.” And she turns her back to play follow the leader on her own.

Again, I’m old. I don’t have any idea how follow the leader works without both leaders and followers. All I can say is, it’s a shame that we lose our imagination as we get old. The girl had no problem imagining it or doing it.

And so she played, follow the leader, blazing her trail. And as I watched, the older kids, being cool kids with great imaginations, went and followed.

So she’s having fun again, which is good. There is laughter, which is great. My girl, not quite three, followed the beat of her own drum, which is heaven.

Especially to her dad who can’t imagine a cooler little girl.

Babybear Swing
Thanks for the swinging.

It seems that the attention on Father’s Day is sent in the wrong direction. When you’ve got the two greatest kids on the planet who at almost three were already blazing their own path, honestly, I’m just grateful to be along for the swinging.

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.