I’ve been told that there are those moments, of being a Dad, where you’ll feel time stop and wonder where the past has gone – their first steps, the first time they say “Dada”, that first time you hear “I wuv you”. It’s true. Those moments freeze. But those would freeze for anyone – mom, dad, grandpa, uncle, really cool next door neighbor. But I believe that there are some moments that may be closer to a Dad’s heart than others. Maybe not, I’m nothing if not wrong a lot of the time.
But for the purposes of this story, I’m going to work under the assumption that I am right (for now).
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law bought H (my three-year-old son) a powered John Deere front loader for Christmas. Don’t call it a tractor or a bulldozer, H knows the difference and will correct you. Oh, yes he will.
The smart people who made this “toy” (I use this word loosely cause that kid gets a lot of chores done with that bad boy) gave it three drive options; Reverse (you have to hold the handle up), 1st gear (a nice pace) and then 2nd gear. Bro-in-law delivered the front loader with the special safety stop on 1st gear, no way for H, new to the whole driving world, to pop that baby into 2nd… yet.
H spent the winter, between snowy days, perfecting his driving skills. He could hit the mountain of compost, or the leftover snowbanks with his loader and re-deposit piles of it elsewhere. He would get stuck in the snow or grass and be able to maneuver his way out with a series of quick turns and using logic. He would get into a corner, put it in reverse, look over his right shoulder and do a perfect 3 (or sometimes 10) point turn to get back in the right direction.
H had it all down on lock. Every day he’d spend out on the farm with his Mom (the real farmer in the family), he’d be learning how to steer, how to stop, how to DRIVE. I was impressed every single time I saw it.
A few weeks ago, H and I were playing in the driveway (with CJ – my 1 year old daughter – in her wagon) while my wife was away from the farm for a morning. H and I talked back and forth about the prospects of removing the safety guard and trying out the 2nd gear. To me, it just looked like he was getting bored meandering around in 1st gear. I know my wife had talked with H about this too, but ever the over caution son (just like his Dad), H was hesitant.
So, I took his plastic safety cones and blocked off the driveway from any possibly oncoming cars (those UPS drivers can barrel down our fishhook driveway!). I made sure CJ was strapped into her wagon and offered to footrace (I am NOT an athletic or fast man…) him if he tried 2nd gear. Well, the prospects of beating Dad in a race was too good to pass up.
So, I got the screwdriver from the garage. We giggled about how much faster he would be than Daddy, and how I may have to ask him to come help me after he wins. I removed the plastic guard, assured him that I trusted him, and the power was now literally in H’s hands.
He drove in a small circle and zigzagged back and forth a little, still in 1st. Still trying to make his brain catch up with his heart. Then, in a blink, he was off.
He pulled down on the throttle, and his little head shot back like he was just launched from a canon. The tractor (sorry – front loader) took off like a dog chasing a cat. It had to be going 75 mph easy (only – not really, but compared to 1st gear, it sure seemed like it). I jogged to keep up and then, as any good Dad would do, came up just short on the race.
H looked at me, smiled, rocked it back into 2nd gear and took off across the farm – laughing the most infectious laugh a little kid has ever had.
It WAS one of those moments, for as fast as H was going, time was standing still. I must have looked like a big buffoon standing in the middle of my driveway, pulling a little red wagon, with a grin as wide as the entire outdoors.
Want to know the next thought that entered my mind? I’ll never get to put that plastic safety guard back on. This is H’s new speed. Make sure you take some time to slow down kid, let Daddy catch up from time to time.
Featured Products in this story:
Peg Perego John Deere Ground Loader 12-Volt Battery-Powered Ride-on.
(Mind of the Modern Man did not receive any promotional consideration for this story.)