I hadn’t planned on writing a blog post today. Many people who advise about these things maintain that we should develop a blogging routine to grow our audience. While that makes sense, I’m in that beautiful spot in life where I can do things on my terms. Perhaps the best thing about retirement is to have the time to pursue our interests and do what we feel like without the pressures of always keeping a schedule and meeting work deadlines. The path that works best for me is to write when I feel like it. Blogging for me is a hobby; I don’t want it to become my job.
This morning I was reading a post by a blogger I recently discovered (LaShelle) at Everpine Forest and Farm https://everpineforestandfarm.com/. She was writing about her son and his love of blueberries. She shared a comical tale about how her young boy had once raided the refrigerator and overindulged on blueberries. What followed was the humorous image of him waking his mom up while he stood there covered in blueberry stains. You can read about that here: https://everpineforestandfarm.com/2022/02/14/miracles-and-blueberries/
I’m also a parent. I connected with LaShelle’s post because it reminded me of unpredictable and funny experiences I’ve been through. Parenting is full of these moments of joy and challenges. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s what we sign up for when we become parents.
While reading LaShelle’s tale, I immediately thought of our son’s fixation with heavy equipment when he was a little guy. The neighbor who lived below us was a dirt contractor, and he had the coolest arsenal of heavy construction equipment that he utilized in his business. He always seemed to bring home an excavator, loader, backhoe, bulldozer, etc.
Being the product of two educators, our son didn’t stand a chance. We read to him all the time when he was an infant. I credit this early introduction to books as one of the reasons why he loves to read today. When your child shows an interest in anything, you run with it. When I first introduced him to the library, I knew that each visit would include bringing home books filled with pictures of heavy machinery. He became interested in other things over time, but construction vehicles were always at the top of the list when he was three or four years old.
Ryan had the happiest childhood. Imagine going out of your backdoor to play on heavy equipment with a couple of buddies. Not with toys, but the real deal. There was no real danger because they couldn’t drive any of it without keys. What they could do was let their imaginations run wild, and they were forever doing that.
As others can relate to, taking trips with a preschool-aged youngster can be quite the challenge. We employed various tricks to help pass the time on these 4–5-hour excursions. My wife, Debbie, was a preschool teacher and later a director of the same school, so she frequently called on all her resources to prevent him from getting cranky and restless.
She employed the technique of surprise rather skillfully as one means of keeping him engaged. Unbeknownst to him, she would always pack some toys to bring, which she kept in the front seat out of sight. Periodically, she would pass a paper bag back to him in the backseat with something inside. Sometimes she’d put in one of his favorite toys, old ones that he hadn’t played with for months, and 1-2 times per trip, she’d slip in something new. I’m convinced that part of the excitement for him was simply the joy of discovery.
Capitalizing on his interest in heavy equipment, we used to count construction vehicles that we’d see on the trip. He was a clever little bugger and counting well by then. He’d usually tire at some point and need a nap. Before he’d drop off to sleep, he’d ask us to maintain the construction vehicle count while he slept. Both of us said we would, fully knowing that would never happen. (Yes, we knowingly lied to him; we were parents trying to survive. Ha-ha.) One might assume because he was only four years old, he might have forgotten all about it.
Upon waking, the conversation would go something like this: “How many construction vehicles have you seen?”
My wife or I would answer with some random number. “Um, I think we’re up to 34 now.”
“But we had 42 before I went to sleep.” Ha-ha! Busted again!
I like the timing of remembering these stories on Valentine’s Day because I am such a lucky man to have a loving wife and amazing son. He got engaged less than three months ago, and he and his fiancée will be traveling from Montana to Missouri tomorrow as they contemplate whether to take a new college football coaching job. I’ve 100% faith that they will make the right decision for them. He may no longer be counting construction vehicles, but I’ll bet he’s counting his blessings on Valentine’s Day. I know I am.