“Do you want to go play with those cars and trucks?” It seemed like every single morning my two-year-old Daniel stood at my side of the bed wearing flannel pajamas asking that very question. Do want to go play with those cars and trucks? He was referring to the “hot-wheels” I had bought a few weeks earlier. A purchase I obviously made without giving sufficient thought to the consequences of my actions. I had no idea it would turn into a 5 a.m. ritual. Every morning following the pitter-patter of a little guy in footed pajamas we made our way to the living room to play with those cars and trucks.
I actually enjoyed our early morning rituals. It was something just the two of us enjoyed together. Even our 5-year-old was wise enough to remain asleep at that early hour!
In a couple of days, my Daniel will get married. As I put the final touches on my part of the ceremony this afternoon, so many things ran through my mind. I recall the time I took Daniel and Randall camping in Palo Duro Canyon. I got the bright idea to cook fried potatoes on my Coleman Stove. I destroyed them. They were awful. 5-year-old Daniel said: “Dad, would it hurt your feelings if we broke out the Cheetos instead?” Daniel’s kind spirit prevails today.
Daniel rarely got in trouble at school. In that regard, he did not inherit his father’s genes. But he did get in trouble with his elementary school music teacher for “singing opera” during class one day. I wanted to laugh so badly!
My quiet Daniel told me when he was in 7th grade that he was going to win the $50.00 cash prize being offered to the student placing first place in a speech contest. I was a little surprised by that comment, because Daniel does not have an arrogant bone in his body. He entered the contest and he won the $50.00.
During Daniel’s college years he served as a sports director a community center serving kids coming from every imaginable home environment. The kIds were drawn to my shy Daniel like a magnet. He also served as a counselor for a camp geared exclusively for children that have been abused and neglected. His patience and kind spirit carried the day in that setting.
When his senior year in college rolled around, her wrote and directed a short film that ended up winning awards all over the state of Oklahoma. The plot of this creative effort revealed his tender heart and concern for people struggling with emotional challenges.
My quiet Daniel will get married Saturday. But all I can think about is a little boy in flannel pajamas asking me if I want to play with those cars and trucks. That image continues to flash before me. How did I get to be so fortunate to raise such a fine man? Two other outstanding young men will stand beside him at the wedding. And I have blessed to raise those guys as well. What do with these thoughts? I think I will break out some Cheetos and consider playing with those cars and trucks tomorrow morning. After all of these years, I still long to be a father.