As a parent, you are constantly being reminded to absorb and delight in every waking moment. Strangers will tell you how you should feel. They remind you that time is fleeting, that childhood passes, and these joys will be lost forever. Pretty heavy stuff for 30-second encounters at the park or grocery store.
Forget for a moment that it’s nearly physically and mentally impossible to document every moment – or that every single moment is worth documenting. I’m often entertained by my children. They make me deliriously happy. They also stress me the hell out. There’s shouting and toddler punches and sleepless nights. There are hurt feelings and defiance and, at times, just plain nastiness. Sometimes, it would be nice to forget a moment or two. Good or bad, they are exhausting.
Every now and then, though, there is a “perfect moment.”
The family splurged on season passes to Six Flags this year. Other than the heat, crowds, sweat, and aching feet, we kinda dig theme parks.
We’ve been a few times already this summer. This last week, having a day where it was just me watching the boys, I thought it would be fun to make a quick, no-pressure visit. My oldest got to bring his friend as a guest. They got to ride some of the scarier rides while my youngest and I explored the “kids” stuff.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had. But I couldn’t tell my wife – she’d be pissed that we didn’t have meltdowns without her. I handled it fine. We had a blast. No tantrums, no arguing, everyone smiling and taking turns. It was relaxed and awesome.
The best part, however, was the first bathroom break of the day when I took the 4 year-old to the men’s room. He insisted on going into the stall himself (like a “big kid”), so I waited for him by the sinks.
I heard a small voice call out from behind the stall door, “Daddy?”
I expected him to ask for help or to announce that he was done.
“I love you,” he sweetly offered instead.
“Oh, I love you too.”
“No, I really love you.”
“Yeah, okay,” I start to laugh. “Thank you. I love you too.”
Then a booming strange voice from the next stall over shouted out, “CHERISH THIS!”
I didn’t realize there had been someone else in there with us. Normally I get pissed at strangers telling me what to do.
“Yes, sir,” I said. “I will. Thank you.”
He continued, “THEY DON’T STAY THIS WAY!”
So, during a day of laughs and thank-yous and midway prizes and cotton candy, I was also given the gift of oddly-timed, oddly-placed, lovely wisdom from a strange man sitting on the toilet behind a closed door.
At least I hope he was eavesdropping and talking to us.
Otherwise that dude’s got serious issues.