It was Saturday and plans were going fairly well. The bike rental deal from Groupon wasn’t exactly close but close enough that I didn’t feel entirely put out of my way. Scheduling activities for myself is one thing but keeping the twins happy involves just enough walking to stay active but not enough to become exhausting. One of the “tut” activities that I keep handy is bike riding which coupled with a picnic take up an afternoon pretty quickly. Especially when the park you’re riding in is 100 acres large and nestled inside a concrete jungle.
As we finally walked our bikes back into Central Park and began pedaling thoughts about the heat and what lunch would be all melted into the sidewalk. The girls and I were racing each other through one of the most famous parks in the world and enjoying every minute.
Sidenote: Never be so hell bend on executing your plans with your kids that you forget to actually enjoy the time. If you do then you planned for no reason.
As we rounded 110th street and began to descend back down CPW we ran into a hill….the twins were naturally pedaling harder than I was but I slowed down to make sure we didn’t lose each other. Then it hit me: they are really tired. I had misjudged riding around the park in the sun and I could see it on their faces that they needed a break. We stopped. My plan was to get lunch right after so I didn’t want to spend any money. (Besides I had none, not cash anyway).
“Daddy we are REALLY thirsty”.
Another side note: Often you will hear your kids but not LISTEN to them please train yourself to not do that.
I looked at their faces. Both flushed I asked them to wait. I walked across the street to a hot dog vendor to ask what I knew to be, a dumb question.
“Do you accept credit card?” A deep Indian accent replied.
I knew it. The farmer’s market selling hand picked apples every weekend has a credit swiping machine but none of the hot dog vendors in Central Park.
“How much for a bottle of water?”
I glanced over to the park bench where my daughters sat and made a decision. I reached back into my wallet and pulled out the perfectly folded $2 bill that I kept for good luck. The very same charm that I had convinced myself was responsible for me always “finding” money on the street. The rare US currency that was no longer in major circulation and that I could probably sell one day when my grandchildren wanted a new car. I gingerly handed over the equivalent of a buffalo nickel to the street vendor who didn’t give it more than a 3 second glance over before shoving it into a larger wad of cash.
Poland spring bottle in hand I walked back towards the girls.
“Yeah!” “Oh My God Dad Thanks! I am so thirsty.”
“Ok ok girls share, you drink some and give some to your sister!”
“Daddy do you want some water?”
“No no you girls drink. We’ll get lunch soon. I’m fine.”
In less that 5 minutes the water was gone and the plastic bottle discarded.
“Daddy you ok?
“I’m fine. Let’s go.”
Parenting in its most rarest form, is a perpetual form of sacrifice. You have to put someone else before you in a way that you are not really wired to do. Up until you become a parent things have been pretty clear: “what’s best for me?”. The question now becomes “what’s best for this other person?”
True loving relationships evolve that way. The rub with having children is that they often [or so you think] don’t really think about what you might be going through or feeling at any particular moment. THEY ARE SELFISH. YES KIDS ARE HELLA SELFISH. But they are kids and you being “the bigger person” (i.e. the adult) understand the ENTIRE picture and not just your piece of it and act accordingly. So that poland bottle will recede into an abyss of childhood memories never to see light again but will stand out for me because I sacrificed something for my children. Yeah I know, being a parent sucks.
– A Single Dad.
PS. I got my $2 bill back serendipitously a few days later but I’ll save that for another post! #Winning