By Jon Covington
Life as a dad is non-stop.
One minute you’re at the starting line, the next the gas pedal is on the floor and you’re at 6,500 RPMs. Tires are squealing. Smoke is flying, and you’re shifting through gears as though you’re a NASCAR driver. Our kids are born and they grow up. That’s a short and accurate statement, but only recently did it really start to sink in as to how fast that happens.
We have a digital picture frame in our TV room. Sometimes I’ll linger and watch the old pictures cycle through. It drives my kids crazy when they have friends over because, to them, the pictures aren’t considered ‘cool’ anymore…learning to eat pasta, melting ice cream bars in summer, affection shown to siblings. Those are times that I remember fondly even if I wasn’t able to be there as much as I would have liked, with work and building a business taking extra time during that season. But instead of beating myself up over it, I now choose to be engaged and involved as much as possible, even seeking out those opportunities. I made that decision a few years ago but I still need to remind myself of it often.
These last few weeks have marked some milestones for our family that I couldn’t even comprehend almost 16 years ago. My fifteen-year-old is all boy. Food is not safe in the house unless it’s leafy green. Computers and video games are staples. Anything that blows up, has wheels, ammunition, ‘music’ with no words, or looks cool is what ‘we’re’ into.
A Navy friend invited my son and I to the shooting range for some gun safety training and target practice. What dad wouldn’t jump all over that? I had visions of my son and I breaching a room, rounding the corner, and emptying a magazine into the target—all center mass of course. Well…there was no room-breaching, no simulated gunfight, and no perfect groupings. It was a controlled atmosphere perfect for teaching…and bonding. I did hit the target—a little better than he did—but more importantly we spent time together.
I planned a bike ride one recent Sunday afternoon and asked my son if he wanted to go. Usually this is when he’ll hem and haw, but to my surprise, he said “Sure”. Maybe there was new respect for hanging out with dad. So we rode for a bit—not Tour de France style with heads down and sweat pouring—just together. Afterwards I found myself constantly thinking of all the times I might have missed, but more thankful for the times that I am now seizing. I do realize that they will grow up and soon they’ll be gone.
This week, we start a new chapter. I have the privilege of taking him to get his learner’s permit. I’m excited and nervous for him. I remember those first moments when I was learning to drive. The feeling of power, accomplishment, freedom….scared to death. Now I’ll get the thrill of reliving that through him. Of course my eyes may be closed and I’ll have a death grip on the door handle, but I’ll be there.
Jonathan Covington is a homeschooling father of four–meaning that his fantastic wife, Jennifer, does all the hard work. He owns an architectural firm in Virginia Beach. He’s also an endurance athlete (who doesn’t finish last). Follow him on Twitter (@viper4454) or on Facebook to see that anyone can train for an endurance event.