The following is a post I wrote last summer but never published. I came across it today while cleaning up my blog a little. I'm not sure why I never quite finished it for posting. For what it's worth, here it is...
I have to admit, when we pulled up to Myrtle Point at West Magic, I was thinking "THIS is where the Fathers & Sons outing is going to be?" To my cynical eye, it didn't look promising. Flat, featureless. No trees, no appealing place to stake a tent. I halfway considered turning around and heading home. If not for two boys who wanted to come, I probably would have. The only attractive part of the vista was the lake, and we didn't come prepared to do anything in the water.
You see, I'm not much of a sportsman. I don't hunt. I don't hike (much). I don't camp but only three or four times a year. Most of all (as it applies to this story), I don't fish. One of the superdads there had several poles set up and had caught half a dozen fish by the time we arrived. His darling son was toddling around, happy as could be, enjoying time with his Dad.
Me? I was dreading putting up the tent and enduring wind-blown sand in my shorts for the second time in three weeks.
But, we do these activities because we appreciate the camaraderie with other men who are trying to do right by their sons. Parenting is the most important job in the world, we tell ourselves, so we spend a full day preparing for a half day camping so we can spend another full day cleaning up from the excursion. Yeah!
One of my boys commandeered my little waterproof digital camera and spent most of his time taking pictures of a dead rattlesnake he and the other boys had found. (When we arrived, we were told by no less than three people that they'd killed eight or ten rattlesnakes in the previous five days, so we'd better be on the lookout.) When he gave me back the camera, I couldn't quite bring myself to delete the pictures and the videos he'd shot, even though they are mostly blurry, mostly of tilted horizons, and mostly him trying out the underwater video feature (lots of beautiful shots of murky water and floating things). While videoing, he keeps up a running commentary on his view of the world that perhaps he'll like to hear some day.
My other son, age 5, was content to screech back and forth between the campfire (such as it was) and the water's edge--- daring himself to get a little wet and finding all sorts of interesting rocks and driftwood. We had to select just those eight or nine thousand pieces that he prized most highly to bring back with us, otherwise the level of the lake would have dropped precipitously for all the gravel we'd have hauled away.
Me? I ate a couple of cold hot dogs and drank a couple of Shastas while we waited our turn on the coals to cook our hobo dinners. To get out of the wind, I huddled behind a strange concrete bomb shelter of a picnic canopy with a couple of other dads who hadn't brought fishing gear and we watched our boys to keep them from wandering off into rattlesnake territory.
When the time came, we inflated the air mattress to fit under the shell in the back of our pickup (I lied earlier about the tent thing), and discovered that it was too wide to fit between the wheel wells. We plopped it in there anyway and spent the night sleeping on top of each other, feeling rather like the innards of a taco. At least we were warm.
I hope that these experiences are memories we give to our children. Spending two days preparing for and cleaning up from an uncomfortable half day is an example of staying at our parental posts. We are were we should be when we get out of our personal comfort zones to do for and be with our children.
A wise and eloquent leader once said that a committed disciple of Christ "sees prevention, especially through good families, as a superior life-style. Parents, therefore, should stay at their posts. If those at the front lines are persuaded to leave their posts to help the reserves build “promising” fall-back fortifications, such parents simply guarantee that both the front lines, and all other lines of defense, will be savagely overrun. Parents, like a symphony conductor, lead those who actually produce the music; we would be dismayed, however, if an anxious conductor deserted his podium in mid-passage to become a flutist."
That last part sounds just a tad preachy to me now, but I believe that parents do have a unique role that they (and society) often underestimate.
Anyway, there's a post for today--- something more than a post about what I had for lunch.