The Boy, this is your father speaking, so put down whatever you are into when I decide to read/give this to you and listen.
As I write this it is July 25, 2011, you are 20 months old and have just gone to bed. Today was a simple day, very simple in fact. And yet, amidst all the simplicity, you taught me something so profound that I just had to write it down.
First, a bit of background. I said today was a simple day, and it was, but it was the kind of simple day that you live for when you become a parent. We were going to take you to the library.
I’m not sure what your study habits will be like when you’re older, but here and now, you love the library. If we’d let you, you would spent hours, running between the shelves of books, discovering new things at every turn. You love to have your mother or me read to your from the baby books bin. You love to grab magazines with Elmo or Thomas the Tank Engine on them and explain everything about them to us in your own language. You love all the posters and decorations they have there for you to enjoy.
Today however, being the Monday after a Pioneer Day Sunday, the library was closed. We didn’t realize this until we had pulled into the parking lot. You were heart broken. You kicked and thrashed against your car seat and against the injustice of it all.
Your mother, the quick-thinker she always is, placated you by saying we could take you to school next to the library to play on the recess toys. If there’s one place you like more than a library, it’s a park. There’s less books, but more screaming, which is a fair trade in your young mind.
We’d never taken you to this park before. You were hesitant at first, but grew more adventurous, eventually climbing higher than you ever have before. When the time came, you didn’t want to leave. Even the first drops of rain would not dissuade you from pointing at the numbers on the hopscotch boards and giggling with glee.
To move you closer to the car while maintaining your level of happiness, your mother and I each took a hand. When run together for a few steps and then “One Two Three!” swing you forward into the air. You laughed, your mother couldn’t help but smile and I tried to capture the moment in my mind so that I could live in it forever.
I was convinced the day could not get better.
I was wrong.
The rain picked up, damping the world and our spirits. We ran to the car, and promised you that we’d come back and play there again soon. We drove home. As your mother and I cowered in the garage, looking out into the rain, you ran straight in, laughing as you went.
Knowing your mother is part cat and hates to get wet, I went after you. I was about to bend over to pick you up and carry you back into the house, when I decided the “Cool Dad” thing to do would be play with you in the rain for a while.
We started to walk around the block, at least you did, and I followed. As is normal for most kids your age, it was a slow walk, because you had to stop to examine everything. Every rock, every yard, every puddle was the most amazing thing in the world to you.
I hope one day you’ll understand what it does to you to watch your child explore, it makes you slow down and try to understand what they find so fascinating. You think back to your own youth, and for a few minutes recaptures the feelings of wonder and amazement you used to feel when everything was new.
That’s what happened to me. You’d seen everything that we looked at before. Many times in fact. But tonight it was different. Tonight it was wet, shiny and clean and despite the fact that you had to get soaking wet to do, you wanted to see every last bit of it.
I hated when I had to bring it all to end as bed time closed in. But even as I carried you home on my shoulders you were amazed by what was around us and you were smiling.
I pondered this as we finished the last leg of our journey. Into all our lives, rain will fall. Rain that will make us cold, wet and miserable. But the rain will bring with it change. It will wash the world clean and if we embrace it, it’ll wash us too.
When this rain comes, it brings with it a choice. We can hide, staying indoors, where we are safe, warm and where everything is the same. Or we can run, laughing, into the downpour.
We’ll see things in a different way than ever before. We’ll overcome our fears and dislikes, and find a whole new world to play in.
Today you taught me to run in the rain. Something I’d forgotten over the last 27 years since I was your age, when the time comes, I hope to teach it to you again.
You’re the best.