Timothy enjoyed his first real trick or treating Halloween dressed in a costume that was somewhere between a dragon, a crocodile and T Rex. We went out with some of the other ‘young families’ in our neighborhood, and Timothy had a lot of fun (above and below he’s practicing for trick or treating by getting the mail).
People get a kick out of the idea that Timothy’s initials (TRBL) sorta spell the word ‘trouble’. But I may have found a better description for our little one, when a Scottish friend, Steve (after having beaten me for the umpteenth time in a Ryder Cup bet), looked at the blog and said, “Here in Scotland, we would refer to Timothy as a ‘Wee smasher’”. Given the collateral damage to our house and his toys, I’d say the Scot hit the nail on the head.
As I turn 50 years old, there are certain rough sports – like tackle football and soccer — where it was fun to play when I was younger and now I’d be happy to be a spectator at, but I’d rather not risk participating in. And no contact sport fits this description better than ‘parenting in public’.
As a spectator, it’s fun to overhear what other parents do in public to get their kids in line, but if I’m the parent in the ring with the bull, ‘fun’ is not the first word that comes to mind.
I got a chance to put this to the test last month when we all went East to visit Elisabeth, who is a freshman at Mount Holyoke College. Timothy and I were the advance team, and we two amigos flew out together on a 7am flight to Boston.
Armed with more (airport purchased) coloring books and stuffed animals than Santa Claus, I arrived with Timothy at our gate. Timo was doing great and so I thought that I would let him out of the stroller and then feed him some breakfast. In retrospect, that decision was about as wise as the one to book a 7am cross country flight with a toddler (‘hmmm, I wonder why there aren’t more young families on this flight?’).
This is when ‘parenting in public’ began for me and the 152 spectators of Delta Flight 808 (oh, and don’t that this shift was lost on Timothy either).
Timothy refused to eat and decided that he needed to get some energy out of his system right as the plane was beginning to board.
The next critical question was –- do we board early?
The rule of thumb is that you should board early if your child is well behaved and will sit quietly in their seat for 20 minutes prior to take off. The problem is that this description fits almost no three year old boys — and not that many dads, for that matter.
Because if you board early, and if your kid starts acting up, you become the roadside fender bender, as boarding passengers slow the boarding process by slowing down to gawk at the unraveling power struggle.
So what did I decide to do? Of course, I rolled the dice and boarded early.
And once we found seats 14 A and B, and Timothy looked at me with that ‘you woke me up at 5am, confined me to a stroller, didn’t feed me, and now you expect me to sit silently seatbelted into a small seat, and resist sliding onto the floor, standing up or pulling any of the nearby seats’ kind of look, I started second guessing that decision as well…
Finally, we’re so grateful during this Holiday of Thanksgiving. We’ve got wonderful families and friends and people in our lives, and health and education and opportunity, and we’ve been blessed with many, many gifts.
As I’ve said often before, I pray regularly for courage and patience. For the courage to work hard, but to balance that with patience when needed.
Timothy shows us that daily, as he struggles to learn to speak, but he also shows great moments of progress. And whatever he’s doing, he’s making us laugh and think and appreciate — oftentimes while we’re cleaning up after him.
We feel very blessed…. even if it was a little hard for me and my 152 Delta friends to appreciate the wee smasher’s gifts on that early morning flight to Boston.