I carry Big Wheels.
Not exactly what I envisioned fatherhood to be like, then again there isn’t much about fatherhood that you can accurately envision before it really happens. It’d be like trying to picture what college is going to be like when you haven’t ever been to school. And you’re an armadillo.
At any rate, that’s part of my gig. I walk around my neighborhood carrying Big Wheels. I’m not exclusive to Big Wheels, mind you. I am an equal opportunity child-propelled vehicle toter. I carry Big Wheels, tricycles, scooters – really anything that the girls decide while in the garage that they are going to ride around the block only to forsake once we are fourteen feet down the street. A glamorous life, I know.
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, though. It does have its perks. I do feel enormously mighty while hoisting these chariots over my shoulder, like I do when I eat Brussels sprouts – a giant casually tossing entire heads of cabbage into my gaping maw. It’s an illusion, sure, but it works for me.
And these kinds of fantasies are useful when you are staring at unabashed and relentless irrationality as you are with kids the age of mine. You’ve got to teeter on the absurd yourself just to keep up. Trying to conduct yourself in a precautious or linear way would be foolish. I’d be swallowed whole by the chasm of ridiculousness if I didn’t play along.
So, I play along. When we collectively decide to take a ride around the block I grab the dog leash and the girls decide on which mini-conveyance they want, change their minds 57 times over a three second span, and out the door we go. Generally, they also trade vehicles at least twice between the garage door and the end of the driveway (which is about two car lengths long), just to keep things interesting. Then we’re off, racing down the street, giggling at high speed. It isn’t usually until we are past Tim’s house that they initially abandon their chariots of choice. The funny thing is that Tim is our next-door neighbor.
Before you ask, of course I have tried just leaving the Big Wheels/scooters/tricycles where they are discarded and simply grabbing them on the way home. That, however, would prevent the girls from riding them again for another nineteen inches further down the street before throwing them aside again to go pick flowers or walk the dog for a foot or trade shoes or race with a lizard or look for squirrels or stand still for no apparent reason or just twirl for the sake of twirling. The options, it appears, are limitless.
And, of course, I could just be a hard ass and tell them we’re not bringing the Big Wheel, et al, because they barely ride them and I don’t feel like carrying them, which I have done. That works fine after the emotional shrapnel of such a refusal has settled because they usually forget what they were upset about by the time we even get to Tim’s house, what with their sand flea-esque attention spans.
But the truth is I don’t want to do that. That part of childhood where they are totally divorced from the need for commitment or reason seems like it would be pretty awesome. It won’t be long before they aren’t allowed to be volcanically compulsive where one second has absolutely zero bearing on the next. How could I rob them of that kind of liberation when this is the only time in their lives when it is possible? There will be plenty of time for them to make sense. No need to jump the gun.
Besides, I get to feel like Hercules in ankle socks.