I'm not saying I'm ready to let go.
On our birthday trip to the Splash Lagoon indoor water park last week, my 11-year-old daughter showed me another example of her growing independence. This time, she wanted to take her best friend, but Daddy told her how important father-daughter time is; that we should spend time hanging out and talking about school or swimming or boys. Just kidding - not boys.
Jordan was so excited, and so was I.
Jordan, right, at Splash Lagoon
After a trip around the Lazy River on our double-innertube, a couple water slides together, the wave pool where we "giggled" and wasted more precious time, I was reminded how much I love this little girl. And also of how fast time has passed. She tells me she's only two years from becoming a teenager; she tells me as if that sets her free.
In an instant I realized how easy she is to love. She's wanted to try out a new attraction called the Aqua Tumbler - a mouse-wheel looking thing with water in it that you can run in until you fall.
I wonder if I kept her in that thing forever, would time stand still?
Not an option?
Anyway, she was standing in line behind a quiet young girl when she just blurted something out, like, "Is this scary."
Two to three hours later, I was sitting in a lawn chair, by myself, trying to spot the two run by with huge smiles on their faces. They took pictures... exchanged e-mails... giggled about things, who knows. As a Dad, I'm sure I don't know.
When we were about to leave, and she came over to hug Jordan goodbye, this 14-year-old found out Jordan was 11 years old.
But on the car ride home, Jordan told me, "Dad, I look a lot older than I am."
Whoa, honey... slow down.
I wanted to get off this crazy ride called fatherhood and "Hit Pause," which is what my son says in place of "hold up a minute," or "stop."
What happened to the little girl who, just yesterday, was afraid to go down a water slide by herself?
It seems time is spinning with my six-year-old son twice as fast. I wondered if having Chase run in a 5K (3.1 miles) was a pipe dream. I mean he's six. And it wasn't just any 5K race; it was outdoors, on a snowy Thanksgiving morning with the temperatures in the teens.
Ever since he joined this Kids Be Fit after-school group at the YMCA, this boy of few words has opened up. Running twice a week on the indoor track at the Y somehow fooled me into thinking he could run in a big-boy race.
Still apprehensive, I held Chase, and a friend of his, at the far back of the starting line. A few pics were snapped, and we smiled. It was a ceremonious race, right? We weren't timing ourselves.
Not according to Chase, who asked my wife the night before how many runners were in the Turkey Trot?
"I have to beat 450 runners," she told me he said.
About halfway through, I lost him. I was apparently holding him back, cramping his style, ruining his race.
He took off when I wasn't looking. I kept his friend back with me, wondering and thinking he probably wanted to ditch me as well.
I never saw Chase until the finish line.
In between, I was a bit panicked, thinking about traffic, other runners, whether he would know where to go, or how to pace himself.
My wife was parked across the Hickory Street Bridge; she looked out the car window and saw him by the bridge. All alone. She thought he may have been lost. She rolled down the window, and didn't even get the chance to call to him before he sprinted out of sight with a sly grin.
I jogged to that same spot more than a minute later.
Chase is already asking me when the next race is. And he doesn't want to run with me next time.
It didn't dawn on me for a couple days, but I think I have to let him do it.
I will eventually have to let them run up ahead.
I'm not saying I'll be ready.