August 3, 2012

Kids, Go Karts, & Some Self-Realization

Being a parent has always been in the plans for me.  I couldn’t imagine not having kids.  I have abilities that make me “good” with them:  the ability to distract babies from crying, teenagers from tearing each other apart, and the rest of them laugh a little at the tall, goofy guy.  This might be the reason that I became a teacher.  I could talk to kids without boring them to death. 

Now that I have kids of my own, I’m trying to use the same gifts with them.  My wife and I have two sons.  The oldest just turned 4 and the youngest is 14 months a little over a year old.  They’re all that matter to us.  Watching the Olympics, I totally get why some of those parents look like they’re about to lose their minds at the slightest hint of achievement or failure.  All of that time, effort, and patience is finally coming together.  There’s nothing better for a parent than helping your kids to live their dreams.

Time spent with your kids is valuable, and I don’t always get that time.  I work numerous jobs throughout the year.  I’m not proud of it.  In an economy where so many are out of work, I feel like a bit of an a-hole.  I end up missing time with my family because of all the work.  These are the formative years when the boys make such leaps and bounds developmentally and I’m gone a lot.  This week alone I will see them for about six hours until we get to the weekend. 

When I’m not working, I spend time with my family.  I don’t meet friends at any bars or hangouts.  I don’t meet up with bro’s to discuss the latest fantasy football analysis.  I don’t even spend that much time on the Internet…  That last one is partially true.  When I do get the time with them, I don’t want to waste it.

We just went on a week-long family vacation to Colorado.  It’s a nine hour drive, which we completely in one day each way.  After a summer of triple digit temperatures and no rain, we all needed this. 
Left to right: Kid 2.0, Chris, My Lady, & Kid 1.0
I love the mountains: the smell, the afternoon thunderstorms, the quiet, and all of the wildlife.  Kid 1.0 is a huge fan of animals.  We go to the zoo a lot and Colorado is a great vacation spot for him.  Every other street corner has a different kind of animal waiting for him.  We’ve seen elk, mule deer, ground squirrels, chipmunks, a coyote, numerous kinds of birds, and a fat yellow-bellied marmot.  Kid 1.0 loves it. 

He loves animals so much that he had purchased three stuffed animals on this trip.  Kid 1.0 shopped around and made sure he got just what he wanted.  There was a cougar, a mule deer, and a snake this year.  He would prefer we had a menagerie.  I’m dreading the day when these won’t’ be stuffed, but actual animals in our house…  That’s one of the reasons that what happened on the trip gave me hope.  I’ve found something I might be able to distract him with; speed.

On the third day in the hills we visited the “Fun Center” that has slides, bumper boats, bumper cars, mini-golf, and go karts.  We spent $50 to get $57 in value and attacked the slides.  Turns out Kid 2.0 is not a fan of the slides.  You can read it all in his expression. 
He didn't cry and he went twice, but you can tell not his first choice.
Kid 1.0 was a big fan of the slides.  He was an even bigger fan of the go karts.
Literally, his face couldn't smile any bigger.
Every parent loves their kid’s laugh.  Being able to hear Kid 1.0 laugh for the entire time we were out on the go kart track was fantastic.  What more could a father ask more?  I was lapping a go kart with my son, worked my way from the back to 2nd place, was gaining on the leader, and my kid was roaring with laughter the whole time. 
Maybe the most fun I've ever had.
It was a great experience.  We did two times out the first day, then went back where Kid 1.0 rode with myself and then with my wife later in the week.   He said to her, “I need you to drive so fast.”  I couldn’t be more proud.   I knew that my competitive spouse would be doing everything possible to win.  She hates to lose, which is probably why I never win any arguments (Hacky Joke Alert!). 
I would have caught her eventually, but she made it easier by slowing down.
The only way it gets better is if 12 years down the road and we’re lapping at Exotic Racing in Las Vegas in an R8.  It could happen…  Our it could be our R8…  #WantanR8

I’m not that big a fan of animals, but my kid is definitely interested in all of them.  My wife and I have already discussed Disney’s Animal Kingdom and after that even some African Safaris, maybe even the Gallapogos.  We will do everything that we can to make sure he lives out his dreams.  The best part of this whole experience is that now I know he and I have a common interest.  He might not be that “in” to sports, but he definitely wants to go fast.  As he gets older it will get easier for me to try to understand him.  Every year has been a new and awesome experience. 

MoKan Motorsports, here we come.  I guess I really need to get something small with a manual before they all disappear.  Who’s got a Mustang GT or a 540i lying around that they want to donate?

P.S. I’m an okay driver, but some of the drivers on this go kart track were horrendous.  I lapped some people just by driving a good line.  I was one of the fatter larger persons on the track, but I was still catching them.  There was an eleven year old boy that did a great job of blocking me on my solo run.  If I had known him or his family, I totally would have put him in a wall.  I didn’t know them, so I kept after him, but was blocked most of the last two laps.  Sometimes it sucks to be an adult…  I did tell him “good job, good effort” afterwards.