Friday, August 15, 2014

Dad Says "NO!" to the Status Quo

In light of my recent revelation that I might be clinging to the familiar at the expense of new experiences, I'm making an effort to broaden my horizons. Naturally, the driving forces behind this effort are fear and the boy. 

As I detailed earlier, this introspection began the other night when I was directing Mrs. and Master Blackwell to our usual playground in lieu of a bigger, less familiar playground a five-minute drive away. 
The handle bars are so mom and dad can push him up
steep hills. According to the boy, the pedals are
strictly ornamental. 

That said, I learned that the old slide, swings and climbing equipment no longer hold Master Blackwell's attention like they once did, a fact pointed out by Mrs. Blackwell who noted that the boy eschews these features and resorts to throwing handfuls of gravel at nearby trees less than five minutes after we've arrived.

With this rededication to thwarting the status quo in mind, last night we went to another park we don't usually frequent. Naturally the entirety of this ten-minute walk is steeply uphill — no exaggeration here, it's really all uphill which is a workout on its own, nevermind when you're pushing a kid in front of you. 

But it was beautiful and cool again. No humidity, no clouds, no bugs and no other people to compete with for use of the playground. 

So, we got some exercise, the new park was better and the boy wasn't picking up gravel and heaving it like confetti. A win-win for everyone.

In the past few days, it's crystallized for me that one of my goals for Master Blackwell is that he not morph into an old man monitoring his front yard for any stray kids that might trounce upon his freshly-manicured grass. 
Ye 'Olde Gravel Tree. 

Aside from the observations noted above, there are some other facts in the same vein that've occurred to me lately. 

Namely, that I'd better watch it or I might become that lawn-loving old man. 

As I've grown older I've observed others who make their world smaller and smaller by declining that which is new or unfamiliar. I can see that in myself sometimes and it's scary.

Far too often, my reflex is to say "no" and I've noticed that it's becoming increasingly easy to talk myself out of any activity that involves going too far from home, or extending too far into the unfamiliar. 

I'm in my mid 30's but there are occasions where I catch myself admiring the Dr. Scholl's product line and, in general, sounding older. 

We've got a grocery store close to our home and they have an in-house restaurant that serves fantastic food, ready to go the moment you order. They've got a comfortable sit-down area and the whole family likes it. 

Part of the new(ish) playground. The bright colors inspired
the boy to violently push his mother down the slide. Other
than that, it was an upgrade. 
The whole family also likes other places but for some reason when we consider eating out, my mind is fixed with visions of the same grocery-store restaurant, of me eating the same meal, often in the same booth. 

There is something to be said for convenience but, what part is the convenient part? Getting hot food fast? Proximity? Or simply not having to consider a pending decision for longer than two seconds.

Since we first met, Mrs. Blackwell has heard me use the phrase "Let's go with the known quantity," literally thousands of times. (It must have been this spark of caution-to-the-wind spontaneity that first attracted her to me.) 

It used to be that I'd invoke this regarding driving directions but now it's worked its way into other parts of life as a philosophy of sorts. 

That's not a bad thing and there's lots to be said for reliability and making life easier by continuing to tread on a well-worn path. But, at Master Blackwell's age, nope. Not yet. 

The looooooooong slide at the new(ish) playground.
That's where this is coming from — fear of wasted youth, I suppose. 

He'll have literally decades of his life to call the police on those suspicious teenagers he saw at the convenience store, or to reprimand the pharmacist for making him wait 10 minutes when he "was told it would only be five." (Incidentally, in both of these scenarios I envision it's June and he's wearing a sweater vest with brown, wool trousers.)

It's not an either-or proposition here and there's no guarantee he'll do any of this — I'm doubting he will. But the good news for me is, I can help by not doing any of it myself. 

By watching me and his mother he'll see that life is enriched with new experiences not burdened by them. 

He'll learn it's a good thing to visit new places, to try new things — to visit the new playground. 

No comments: