It’s been said that having a child is both the least and most selfish thing a person can do. Eight years into this parenting experiment and I can honestly say it’s 90% selfish, 10% unselfish. Yes, I give up the occasional Saturday afternoon to watch a little league game, and all of my money goes to braces and school field trip expenses, but I get a lot more out of this relationship than I give. That wasn’t necessarily true when my kids were babies. During that stage, the only thing I got from my kids was vomit and poop. Sometimes, both at the same time. But now my kids are eight. They can do shit now. Which means I can relive doing shit for the first time.

It seems like every day there’s another significant first for my kids. First time one of them bunny hops on a bike. First time one of them says “shit” in the right context. First time one of them knocks out a tooth because of a failed bunny hop attempt…This past weekend, we took the kids whitewater rafting and found the perfect rock to jump from. One of the greatest joys of my childhood (for the purposes of this article and all my articles, “childhood” refers to the ages of 5 through 40) was jumping off rocks, cliffs, trees, truck beds, houses…anything that was significantly higher than the water below.

Jumping off rocks is something special. And I’m happy to say, it didn’t take much coaxing to get my kids to jump off the rock on the edge of the Tuck last weekend. I leapt first to make sure the water was deep enough, gave them the thumbs up and they were already on the edge, counting down from 10. Seeing the look on their faces—half terror, half joy—as they rose out of the water after that first leap took me back to my own first jump, off the edge of a cliff on the Chattahoochee decades ago. I was psyched to give them this opportunity, but more stoked to be a part of it and absorb some of their fear and joy, like a lizard taking warmth from a rock. So yeah, selfish.

After rafting the Tuck, we headed straight for Innovation Brewing, in Sylva, and ordered session IPAs for the parents and ginger ales for the kids. Sadly, this wasn’t the first brewery my kids have been to. That first came and went years ago, while they were still in those weird marsupial chest packs. Because that’s the kind of dad I am.

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