November 05, 2013

Light at the End of the Tunnel

If your goal in life is to have impossibly high stress levels, blood pressure that would make most tea kettles whistle loud enough to shatter glass and gastrointestinal issues that sound like you’re grinding a tractor transmission inside your stomach, I highly suggest the time-honored activity known as “having children.”

I have two children, a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl, and their combined mission is to ensure I never have 10 consecutive seconds of peace or relaxation. Oh, sure, they do cute things on occasion, but every segue into cuteness is just a prelude into them getting on my nerves or embarking on activities that even Evel Knievel wouldn’t dare to attempt. Jumping over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace with a motorcycle is nothing compared to some of the things my son will decide to do at the spur of any given moment.

Last Sunday, for example, we decided to take a family outing to a nearby park and animal zoo. The weather was pleasant, the leaves were falling, and everything seemed to suggest the day would be enjoyable and relatively without care.

My son believes such a day is completely unacceptable. If his father isn’t having a minor coronary event, then he isn’t doing his job as a four-year-old. He has a reputation and a duty to uphold.

As I said, the day was fantastic, as early November days go; the sky was clear and sunny, and we were looking forward to enjoying one of the last days of the year during which we could embark outdoors without 18 layers of clothing.

And, we were really having a great day! We saw wolves, and coyotes, and a cougar and porcupines and much more. And we fed crabapples to goats. And we made big piles of leaves for the kids to jump into. Oh, it was blissful, fun, and very close to being wonderful, which is a big deal for me.

And then my son just disappeared.

One moment, he was lying in a pile of leaves, asking me to cover him up, and the next moment he was just. . . gone. I spun a quick circle were I stood and I managed to catch a quick flash of red and white as his Toy Story sneakers disappeared into a nearby culvert.

To be fair, I was somewhat fascinated by culverts when I was a child, so the genetic predisposition to explore culverts is ingrained within his DNA. However, I always limited myself to exploring culverts that were large enough for me to walk through, or at least crouch my way through. By comparison, the culvert my son abruptly decided to explore last week was barely large enough to allow water through it. Seriously, a bowling ball would be a tight fit in that culvert, and now my son was in it.

I can’t adequately convey with mere words the sound I heard within my head when my brain realized my son had army-crawled into a culvert, but I imagine it was as close to hearing a 1,000 car pile-up as I’ll ever get. In a futile gesture, I buried my arm into the culvert up to my shoulder and uselessly waved my hand around, hoping to grasp an ankle, preferably his. But, alas, he was already halfway through the culvert by that time.

As a father, I’ve had to make some pretty odd decisions over the past four years, and that November afternoon included a decision that will be included in my forthcoming book “I Did WHAT, Exactly?!” Faced with the reality that there was no way I’d be able to squish myself into that culvert without getting stuck like a cork in a bottle, I instead ran to the opposite mouth of the culvert, got down on my hands and knees and yelled “Come on, buddy! You can do it!” Sure, I was remembering the harrowing news story about Baby Jessica in the well, but I saw no real reason why I couldn’t try to at least encourage him out of that culvert.

And, indeed, after about 20 seconds, my impossibly filthy child emerged, grunting and smiling ear to ear, from the culvert. He was covered in dirt and cobwebs, but he was absolutely delighted with himself as he exclaimed “Neat tunnel!”

I think I spent the rest of the day breathing into a paper bag, but I really can’t remember.

Posted by Ryan at 05:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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