With Father’s Day quickly approaching, many of us take a stroll through memory lane to reminisce about how much we appreciate, love and respect our dads. Those of us fortunate enough to have great dads should do just that. I’m proud to be the son of Big Tom and feel grateful for the time we spent together until he passed away in 2003. I tried to reflect that in this video tribute I made for my dad last year.
Coincidentally, a trip to my town’s carnival this week reminded me about how big of a blessing it is to be a father, too. Sometimes I get so caught up in working, disciplining (read: yelling), chauffeuring, cooking and refereeing around the house or in the minivan that my gratitude for having four young kids, ages 3 to 11, isn’t always on the surface.
I do love being a dad even if I’m not always very good at it. If nothing else, being a dad makes me even more appreciative of my dad (and my mom, of course). This job is not as easy as the parenting brochures made it seem.
My wife is out of town for work, so I’ve been doing the single-parenting thing this week. This turn of events coincided with the Fort Herriman Days, and my daughter wouldn’t stop driving me nuts about going to the carnival.
I’d joke that against my better judgment I bravely took my four wild offspring and donated way more of my money to the carnies than I would’ve preferred, but that would be a lie. Taking my kids to the carnival as a solo act turned out to be a blast. Hate to say it, but this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t started improving my health and my energy level three months ago.
My parents used to take us to Utah’s biggest amusement park, Lagoon, once a summer. For the most part, my mom and dad would just watch us go on rides. My dad simply got too big to fit into the attractions, which unfortunately is where I’m currently at in my life.
But my parents had fun watching us have fun, and that’s just what happened for me on Thursday night.
It was great to watch Sydney go on the high-flying swings and the Tilt-A-Whirl ride.
I enjoyed seeing Ethan take Jack on the carousel and big gunny-sack slide and run to different rides with excitement despite not being a big fan of amusement parks.
It was humorous to watch Aidan, our brave 7-year-old, go on the carnival’s scariest ride, Zero Gravity, which lifts people up while spinning them around high in the air like they’re in an open-air dryer. (I did feel bad, but kinda laughed, when he puked after going on it for a seventh time.)
It did my heart good to see the four of them, who usually spend their down time torturing each other, have fun together spinning on the Dizzy Dragon and zipping around on the Himalaya, spending tickets to play games and hurrying to their next adventure.
I didn’t go on one ride all night, but you can guarantee I smiled more than all of them combined. Moments like that are what being a father is all about.
It made me really excited for a personal goal I’ve made. Because of my size, I haven’t been able to go on amusement-park rides for years. Now that I’m finally taking back control of my life, I’m planning on taking my family to Lagoon at the end of the summer (yes, my wife will even be invited). I fully intend on fitting into the seats and riding the rollercoasters.
I hope my kids can keep up with me.
By the way, I carried around bottles of water and brought some healthy, portable food with me to the carnival, so I wouldn’t be tempted by the funnel cake, cotton candy, fried Twinkies or BBQ.
Being prepared and in control feels so great.
Knowing my dad, who pleaded with me to take good care of my health before he died, Big Tom would tell me that is the best Father’s Day gift I could give him.
It’s a gift I’m giving myself too. I want many more moments, years and fun adventures with these crazy kids of mine.