We walked through the parking lot after another fulfilling family outing at Busch Gardens Tampa. Jay and I took the lead, with Chris and MomScribe a few paces behind. It had been a particularly good Saturday at our favorite local park, and I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. And tired and sweaty on the outside. In that state of post-theme park euphoria, I turned to Jay and said, “You know, Jay? You make being a dad fun.”
And he said: “Thanks, Daddy. When I grow up, that’s what I’m going to be. A daddy.”
Me: “Really? That’s a good idea. But what do you think daddies do?”
Jay (pausing to consider): “I think they … drive. And they go to work. And they love all the people who are close to them.”
He looked over at me while we walked toward the car.
“And they wear hats and carry backpacks … and they wear Skechers so they can run super fast.”
He’s got me pretty much pegged.
I do drive. And, fortunately, I go to work. I carry the backpack at Busch Gardens, and I do, in fact, wear Skechers. Not to run super fast, certainly. That ship sailed early in the Bush II administration. I wear Skechers because they’re affordable, comfortable and durable. I wear Skechers loafers to work, too. Same reasons.
And, oh, how I love those close to me. All the way to the moon … and back. Although Jay’s personal variation on the Guess How Much I Love You theme is a bit more apt: To the galaxy, from star to star in the shape of a heart, and on, and on, and all the way back.
We were invaded by ducklings at lunch during that Busch Gardens Saturday. Nine little down-covered crumb snatchers, swarming beneath our table like fuzzy ants, herded by the watchful Momma Duck. Both boys were delighted to have the company, of course. Never moreso than when a marauding squirrel chased one wayward duckling out from under an adjacent table, only to beat a hasty retreat moments later when Momma Duck marshalled her reinforcements and charged. A duckling brigade on a quest for vengeance against the squirrel menace. Awesome.
It’s like that at Busch Gardens. We’ve gone there as a family since Jay was a tiny baby. MomScribe and I had our engagement photos shot there. It’s a special place for us, a familiar escape into the comfortably exotic. No matter how often we go, something always surprises us. On days like Saturday, the boys leave exhausted, asleep in the back seat before we get out of the parking lot. I leave in a state of semi-euphoria, aware of my good fortune and duly appreciative. Also, occasionally, in the mood to express my gratitude to my 6-year-old son.
So now? I know what daddies do. And that Jay wants to be one someday. I think he might be on to something.