That’s not to say that I don’t love life now, when those guys are married men with little ones of their own. Who could help but love being a grandpa ten times over? And one of the best things about it is seeing how much my sons enjoy being dads. They delight in their children, just as I delighted in them. And still do.
But every season of life is special, and it was very special when I was a young dad and my boys were toddler and preschool age. That was back when Dad was the smartest, strongest, best man in the world. Anything Dad couldn’t do wasn’t worth doing. Dad knew everything too, or if he didn’t it wasn’t important information. The moment when Dad came home from work was the highlight of the day.
We had little games we played, things that started impromptu and became repeated rituals. Rickey and Timmy used to run across the living room floor, leap high in the air and come down hard on a recumbent Dad. Somehow I managed to keep them from tumbling off and cracking their heads on the hardwood floor. Of course I always exaggerated my “Oof!” when they landed on me to enhance their sense of power. Little blonde, mischievous Timmy loved it, flying across the floor with a wide grin of delight and his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth.
Another little routine Tim enjoyed was his “safe house.” That started one evening when I was sitting on the floor with my legs drawn up sort of Indian fashion, my arms around my knees. Little Tim walked over, climbed into the space between my knees and said with a grin, “I’m in my sathe houthe.” That hint of a lisp used to be SO cute.
It’s funny how simple little memories stick with you. Maybe it’s because I still dimly remember the sense of security I once had as a child sitting on my father’s lap. Anyway, I’ve noticed that you can be pushing sixty and have sons in their thirties yet still feel a tenderness toward them that is very much like what you felt three decades ago.
I wonder what it felt like to be little Timmy and pretend that sitting on the floor with Dad’s arms and legs all around you was like being in a fortress, safe from all dangers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s like the feeling grownups get when they are close to God and sense a protective Jehovah Sabaoth (Lord of Hosts, Our Protector) very present in our lives. I sort of hope so. I would like to think that there was a time when I made my little boy feel that safe and peaceful.
Now Tim and his brothers are dads in their own right with children livening up their days. They really seem to love being Dad to little ones as much as I did.
I hope so, because there’s nothing in this world like it.