As a single parent, most of the time I share with my kids involves both Natalie and Daniel. For me, it’s usually a matter of serving two masters. Throw in the fact that many times my girlfriend is with us and that number bumps up to three. Every now and then, however, circumstances and situations come up where I have one kid and my ex has the other. This provides a very unique dynamic and was the case this past weekend.
My ex was invited to a cookie party (whatever that is) and took Natalie along with her. This gave me the entire morning and early afternoon with my little dude Daniel. At first I thought we’d just hang at the park or go riding on scooters (the push pedal kind, not the gas powered kind). Then it occurred to me that we do that type of stuff all the time. This was father-son day. This was something bigger than just ordinary. This had to be special and cool.
So off we went to Dinosaur World. DW is a small, dinosaur-themed attraction just 10 miles east of Tampa. It’s priced just right relative to Disney, Universal and Busch Gardens, and it’s perfect for a couple of hours. The park is full of life size replicas of the ancient monsters that once roamed the earth, and has very informative videos and displays of fossils, etc. For what looks like something that began as a mom-and-pop roadside attraction, Dinosaur World has evolved (no pun intended) into a respectable alternative to the big theme parks of Central Florida.
So there we were checking out the size of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Daniel frustrated with my need to read every informative plaque at each display.
“Don’t read this one, Daddy.”
“But it’s about the Brachiosaurus. Can you say Brachiosaurus?
“C’mon. Just try.”
“Did you know that it used to weigh about 35 tons!”
“Do you want to go back to the playground area?”
“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Let’s go! C’mon, Daddy. I’ll race you…..”
So maybe he’s not the little rocket scientist I aspire for him to be, but he IS left handed. Considering the Kansas City Royals just gave Gil Meche $11 million over 5 years, I have already started working on Daniel’s split-finger fastball.
Long story short, Saturday was a very special time for me. It was a chance for me to connect more deeply with my son and not have to try and balance my attention with my daughter. It was a chance for Daniel and me to make our own memories and to have our personal moments. I look back at the times in my childhood when it was just me and my dad and I smile because I remember feeling just a little more special and a little more important than when it was my brother and me.
I hope and pray that this is what Daniel will remember from these moments. I hope he will grow up knowing and understanding how much I love and adore him. Anyone who knows me knows I ride him hard at times, but the cliché is true. I am tough on both my kids because I love them so much, and I don’t ever want them to be complacent when it comes to what makes them special and amazing.
But then again it was nice to just let that all go for an afternoon, take Daniel to this special place, and let him beat me every time we raced from her to there.