Monday, October 13, 2003

#28 Watching all the dads go by

When I was a little girl, sometimes my father would take me along when he delivered fuel oil in northern Illinois. It probably wasn’t often, but since we didn’t do a lot together, I remember those times fondly, especially his singing as he drove the rural roads.

Fathers today seem to make it a point to spend some quality time with the kids. I see a lot of them at the bakery where I have my coffee in the morning. It is located close to three elementary schools (one public, one private and one Catholic), one middle school and one high school.

Last Friday two little guys sat down at a table next to me by the fireplace while dad stood in line to get the breakfasts. The older one said, “I’ve got the best seat.” And the little guy chimed in, not to be outdone, “I’ve got the second best.”

The teen-age fashion parade I see there is amusing. I’m sure adults thought the same of our multi-layered crinolines and white bucks in the 50s. The girls’ jeans looked like they’ve been tattooed on and the boys’ jeans look like they could get three more guys inside. The girls show their navels with shirts that look like they shrank in the wash and carrying back-packs bigger than the suitcases we took on our 16 day Amtrak trip. But last week I saw a really handsome, head turning group--a father with well groomed, nicely dressed children. The boys were in khakis with dark blue shirts and the teen-age girl wore a plaid blue and green skirt and vest. Short, but covered all the basics. I’ll bet he’s paying a hefty tuition somewhere to have his kids look that good.

Today I could overhear a father giving his son a pep talk about his team from a booth by the window. He was using some pretty big words and heavy concepts, like “challenge,” “perceive,” “encourage,” “good clean tackle,” “keep your head clear,” and “confidence.” I turned around expecting to see a brawny high school linebacker having breakfast with his dad, but it was a little skinny kid, maybe second grade, sitting on his knees so he could reach the table. He was staring out the window while dad droned on about team work, probably wondering where childhood went.

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