As much as I love both of my kids, I sometimes find myself wanting to spend time with just one or the other. It varies back-and-forth. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it does seem to be a fact of life.
And so, when my older son went camping with his Boy Scout troop this past weekend, I found myself looking forward to some one-on-one time with my 7-year old. My wife made it easier, heading out for shopping with the girls on Saturday, leaving me to take my little second grader to his school’s fall festival. I’ve been to this festival every year since we’ve been in Georgia. It’s a good time for all. My son jumped on jumpies, came home with brownies from a cakewalk, and bought a poster at the book fair. (My wife is still getting on me about allowing this one. “He’s supposed to buy BOOKS, not POSTERS. I couldn’t help it. There were posters for sale and he really wanted one. He vacillated for several minutes between a poster for the Falcons and one for my alma mater, Auburn. He finally decided on the Auburn one. I’m sure that’s why my wife thinks I let him buy it.)
One incident from that afternoon stands out. My 7-year old is an independent type, or at least he claims to be. He often runs off, convinced the world is his playground, and every day is a day to play. My wife and I have often gotten upset with him when he runs around in public places. We’ve tried to explain how dangerous this is. He says he gets it, but runs away again. When he was younger, my wife and I thought we might be driven to get one of those kid leashes. We chose not to do so.
This day, however, the little guy boy proved he’s not as independent as he likes to pretend. I was at a row of booths checking out the goods being promoted at one of them. My son ran toward the end of the booths to see some others items. I was watching him, so I knew exactly where he was. However, he thought I was behind him. When he turned and didn’t see me, he went a little nuts. When we reunited, he was upset. “Daddy, you left me. I thought you were behind me.” Telling him I was watching him the entire time didn’t make him feel any better.
That night, after my wife returned, our son regaled her with the story of how Daddy left him at the fall festival. We joked, saying “Don’t you like being by yourself?”
The truth is…no. As independent as he is, he needs to know someone is close by. When I put him to bed that night, he asked if I would sleep on the floor for a few minutes till he went to sleep.
“Are you scared?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
So, he still needs me. And I’ll enjoy that feeling as long as I can.