Me and the Crew Chief

Yesterday, after I picked up my son from school, I told him we were going someplace.

“Is it someplace fun?”
“No, it’s something horrible.

He didn’t even bat an eye.  “I don’t believe you.  It must be something fun.”
Damn.  All those years of teasing the shit out of him are starting to catch up.

So we headed out of town.  I kept putting off his questions about why we were taking this road, where we were going, whether there would be Legos there, etc.  Finally, as we turned off of the highway, he spotted a big McDonald’s.
“Are we going to McDonald’s?”

“Yep!”

Uh, well yes we were, to grab a quick bite first.  But come on, buddy, there’s one two miles from school and one two miles from home.  You think I drove to the next town to go to this McD’s?

“I don’t think I want to play today.”

I looked.  Oh.  There’s a HUGE frickin’ indoor Playplace on this McD’s.  Maybe he could think that I drove this far for this McD’s.

“Good, because we don’t have time today.”
After a quick munch and sharing his new Lego Club Magazine, he said, “I changed my mind.  I want to go play.”

“Nope.  We’ve got better things to do.”
And I took him down the street a little farther, around the bend, to the big-ass go-kart track.

We’ve been there before, but not often.  Really, it’s a steal.  For $20 you can get a good thirty or forty minutes’ worth of racing in.  It was still relatively early on a weekday, so we grabbed a two-person cart and more or less had the track to ourselves.  (There were two or three others out there, but the track is so long and we were so far spaced that we only passed someone once in the half hour.)

He had a blast.  There was a dummy wheel on the passenger side, and he made full use of it.  I whipped us around as hard and slid us as crazily as our underpowered cart would let me, and he ate it up.  Then I thought about it:  I’d just noticed that he’s officially old enough (and tall enough) to drive their kiddie carts now.  This could be our last tandem ride together.  Next time he could be racing me.

In some ways, that’s a little sad.  I won’t be able to reach out and grab his leg when we slide around a corner.  But mostly, I’m happy about it.  He’ll be able to get out there and start pushing his own envelope a little bit.  I just want to make sure we do it early one weekday morning or something, because frankly, I’ve seen the boy play NASCAR on the Xbox, and the way he drives scares the ever-lovin’ shit outta me.

After about a half-hour, I asked if he wanted to keep lapping or do something else.  He actually asked to play a round of putt-putt, so we did.  And for the first five or six holes, he absolutely stomped my ass.  No kidding.  He’d shoot a 5 (on a par 3) and I’d shoot an 8.  I pulled even by the 9th hole, and I rallied from 10-14 or so to pull out a lead.  But I never intentionally muffed a putt.  (Until the 18th, where I shot a 10 to give him a 1-point win.  But hey, I’m not stupid.)

It’s getting interesting, having him starting to get old enough to challenge the old man.  But I’ll tell you, right now I’m really looking forward to the first time I can really race his cackling little butt on a go-kart without holding back.

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8 Responses

  1. Excellent story! Very touching. Just remember what recently happened to a friend of mine who took on his son in basketball: he ended up in a cast.

    Yep, that’s what happens when I play my son in NASCAR on the Xbox. Whabbo, I’m in the wall.

  2. When I visit my dad we always play Scrabble or Upwords and he always wins. Then one visit, I stomped his ass not once, but twice in a row. His response? “Wanna go play pool?”

    The man’s in a league and it turns out he’s a f-ing shark! Far from holding back, he won’t play unless he knows he’s going to win.

    Ask my wife: I’m notoriously uncompetitive. I want the game to be interesting, not a smackdown. If that means I have to sandbag a little bit, I’ll do it. Hopefully not so obviously or in such a way as to make it insulting. It just means that I start deliberately avoiding certain categories on Trivial Pursuit, etc.

    Now if I’m trying to be a nice guy and you rub it in my face, then the gloves come off. I’ve given out a couple of badass beatdowns in video games back in college. To the point that observers started to say “Damn. That’s cold.” Well, if you don’t talk smack when you score, you don’t get me throwing the ball on 4th-and-10 when I’m up by 40.

    But Upwords, man, my wife, her mother, and her grandmother are demons when it comes to that game. I think I’ve played once or twice and been crushed so resoundingly that I counted my limbs when it was all over.

  3. What a fun afternoon for you guys! Soak it up, when he’s a teenager he won’t even want to acknowledge that you exist. Which wears off in late teens/early twenties. Now my two are completely GEEKED about going camping with Calvin and me in July. Sigh. No tent nookie for us.

    So it’s a tradeoff? Right now, that no-acknowledgement-of-existence in exchange for some nookie-time sounds like a good deal.

  4. I don’t really have much to say, but this made me smile. It makes me wish that I had moments like this with my mom.

    It’s wishing I had more moments like this with my dad that keeps me trying with my son. Laura is right; I know that the day is coming soon when he’ll stop begging for my attention and, instead, I’ll be begging for his. Sometimes it’s easier than others, but I do try to work in some of this hopefully-good-memory-fodder stuff whenever I can.

  5. I love it… We push our kids to grow up and wish we could pull them back once they do. Thanks for sharing.

    True. I think we all pick and choose when we want them to act grown up and when we want them to still be little kids. I’ll admit that I do.

  6. Very cool. It all goes by so quickly. I’m not looking forward to the day that my daughter responds to me entering a room with a bored shrug instead of a heart-warming “Daddy!”

    Yep, that “Dude, get off’a me!” is just around the corner, no matter how much I’d prefer not. For now, though, he still wants to play music with me. Or, technically, he wants to play NEAR me. Have you ever tried to teach an autistic second-grader how to play the drums? Wow, this is an adventure.

    My wife always regrets that our son learned to talk so late that he more or less bypassed the “Mommy” and “Daddy” for “Mom” and “Dad.”

  7. “Are we going to McDonalds?” as a destination question. That’s hilarious.

    His fascination with Legos is also quite impressive 🙂

    Yes, impressive…and expensive, when you have a hyperfocused and completist wife. “Oh, look, they came out with six new Star Wars Lego sets that he doesn’t have!”

    Okay, so it’s not THAT bad. But it’s pretty damned bad. I’m relatively sure that you build a life-sized Stonehenge with the number of Legos that I have in my house right now. Well, okay, that’s hyperbole. But I bet that you COULD build a life-sized Big Wheel and a Green Machine to race it.

  8. “Is it someplace fun?”
    I recall asking my dad this when we would go out during my Daddy’s girl phase. I think he responded the same way you did, only I actually believed him for some reason.
    Great post! Makes me want to call my dad.

    My son has learned quickly to never take ol’ Dad seriously.

    I can’t help it, I just have to mess with him. I blame it on my uncle Ronnie when I was tiny.

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