When I was a kid, things didn’t matter. The price of gas, money, love, debt, heartbreak to name a few. The only time things got real was when the chain came off on my bike or we lost the puck in a snow bank and it took forever to dig out. When we were 10 we wanted to be 20. When we were 20 we wanted to be 30 and now that we are 40 I’d like to be 10 again. Life happens. I’m not sure exactly when it did, but it happened. And it’s not always fun. The things they teach us in school may seem important at the time but it seems like they’re giving us the wrong tools to make the right choices in life.
Every day I worry. Maybe it’s stress, but my mind carries a lot of responsibility and it sucks. Just the other night my son asked me about Santa. And that took me back to my childhood and the magic of a fat dude bringing me presents. I loved Santa, I loved the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny was awesome too. Cindy mentioned the importance of not lying to our kids, but I saw and heard the disappointment in my child with when he thought that maybe there is no Santa. Nowadays kids are growing up way too fast. Enjoy the little things and embrace the magic. The only things I believe in now no longer bring me that much joy. As we get older we feel older, we look older and we, unfortunately, act older. What I wouldn’t do to be a kid again and live a life free of stress. Saturday morning cartoons. Sleepovers. Life was perfect. Now that we are older and have to be adults and responsible, it’s easy to see how relationships can crumble.
There are so many things that go into a life that people neglect the relationships that need attending to. I want to believe in Santa. I want to believe that a rabbit brings me chocolate and I want to believe in the magic that I once had with my wife. Life is short. Once the magic and the hope is gone, you’re not left with much. So believe.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an NHL hockey player. Not because I was raised in Montréal and grew up skating and playing hockey since I was 4. Not because the Montréal Canadiens were bigger than life itself. And not because every person I ever considered to be a solid role model was an NHL hockey player…but because as a kid growing up I thought I was good enough. I was always bigger than everyone else. I was always stronger than everyone else. And I was always faster than everyone else. I also had the knack of scoring goals. I never played organized hockey as a child. High school was the extent of my experience with any organized hockey.
I realized, however, that when push came to shove, I wasn’t really mean. If I hit someone or knocked them down, I’d apologize. It wasn’t in me to want to hurt anyone. I was missing that one key element that could have taken me to the next level. My brother came to watch me play one night years later in my men’s league and said all he could here is me saying sorry to people that I knocked down. He said it was hilarious.
Fast forward to my son who was born 2 ounces shy of 12 pounds and 24 inches long. When Cindy and I first heard the news of this giant kid we had created, thoughts of him in a Montreal Canadiens jersey ran through my head. As a toddler, he liked to color and play. Never really had temper tantrums or acted out. As he grew and dabbled in soccer and other sports I was starting to see that maybe I’ve created a mini-me? I asked my son during a soccer game why he wasn’t running after the ball? His answer? “I just wanna catch butterflies, dad.” And that’s when I realized that he too was not ever going to play in the NHL. Now I’m also realistic when it comes to understanding the odds of making it to the pro level. The stars have to align and you have to have all the tools. Even the aggressive killer instinctive ones don’t make it. But I wouldn’t trade my butterfly catching sweet perfect son in for anything else.
I don’t know what to get my son for Christmas? Society today gives me options like Xbox’s, PS3’s, Ipods, Ipads, Iphones and everything else that can be plugged in or battery operated. I want my son to have what I never had. I want my son to have what other kids have. But I also want my son to grow up the way I did. In the summer time, I had a ball glove and a basketball. In the winter time, I had a pair of skates a stick and a pair of skis. With those things came a large circle of friends and fresh air. Daylight turned into dark skies but the lights enabled us to play until we were too tired to continue playing.
I realize that I’m not that old but it seems like I’m starting to sound like my dad. “You know, back when I was a kid I used to walk to the skating rink.” It wasn’t that long ago, but times have changed. Am I getting old? I want my kids to enjoy the outdoors. Growing up in Quebec, my favorite time of year was the springtime. The snow was just starting to melt, the skiing was amazing and the weather even nicer. I always looked forward to skiing in shorts and a t-shirt.
With Christmas weeks away, I think it’s in my families best interest to buy him a snowboard. I’m going to put the electronics aside and strengthen my family’s social skills. We will have to talk to each other but nowadays who can’t brush up a touch on communication and actually talking with real words. The funny thing is that I’m pretty sure I’ll have to bring his iPad before leaving to the mountain! Life is short, I want my son to remember skiing with me, not watching each other’s faces buried in electronics. One life, one son, one chance to experience life in a productive way. It’s only a matter of time before he won’t wanna hang out with me soon. I know what to get him now.