A couple of weeks ago my older daughter was coming home from winter camp. I had promised to leave work a little early so I will be there before her bus arrives at the school. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get out of the office quite as early as I had hoped, and as a result, instead of getting to the school before the bus, I got there about 10 minutes late.
As I walked up to the bus, all I saw was a flury of activities: volunteers helping to unload the luggages from the belly of the bus; parents helping their kids pick up their bags, making sure they haven’t left anything behind; kids running around playing with each other; teachers trying to keep the kids in line.
As I got closer, the cloud of frenzy began to clear, and I saw her: standing a few feet from the crowd by herself, holding her little backpack in front of her, eyes looking around, searching for me. As her eyes found mine, she broke into this beautiful smile, ran up to me, gave me a big hug and said, “I thought you were going to be early!’
All the ink in the world is not enough to describe what that moment feels like. Yet there was a time in my life, now feels like a lifetime ago, when my heart was so caught up in my work, that I would have just hurried her to get her bags because I have a meeting to rush to, or have some other business waiting for me. Today, having hit the “reset” button in my life, I found myself simply holding her, savoring the moment, helping her to get her bags, and then out of the blue, suggested, “Let’s get some ice cream on the way home!”
Last Sunday I was watching her play hockey, freezing my butt off on the bench, all the while being my usual obnoxious cheerleading self for her. (She says it’s embarrassing, but I know she loves it . All of a sudden, one of the other dads (whom I don’t know) came up to me and said, “Can I tell you something? I have been noticing you since the beginning of the season and I love the way you cheer the kids on and encourage them. But what I really want to say is, I watch all the parents, and you are ONLY one who never took out your phone or blackberry to text or email during the game. You are really HERE for your kid. I have to confess that it’s hard for me to turn the phone off and just watch them play.”
To which I simply smile and said, “I once was like that too…”