It’s raining, windy, and a storm is on it’s way. I started thinking about last summer and all the things. All the times that I am grateful for, all the experiences that will live with me forever.

It started off with my lovely wife playing an old video she found of our children looking through those toddler cardboard books with pictures of baby animals. They were imitating animal sounds, and picking favorites. Hearing their little voices describing how scary a snail is made my morning.

That video is a few years old, and while they’re still young, they are definitely growing fast. In the last year, both have learned to ride bikes without training wheels. Our driveway is a great training ground, and for longer adventures we utilize the community trail that is a short walk from home.

As a reward for the newly acquired skills I found a couple old stingray style banana seat bikes and fixed them up for them. It’s awesome to see my old soul kids proud of the rad cycles!

Well one of the grateful moments that came to my mind was a weekend getaway we took to a KOA campground this summer. We rented a cabin for a few nights and we joined family and friends that may as well be family with their trailers and RVs in the park. My new little bikers were in heaven. They were able to taste a little freedom, the first taste of independence. Riding between the cabin and RVs, joining cousins and cruising to the playground, life is good in a campground. At first they were coming up with excuses to go from one spot to another,

“Can I get a Capri Sun from the cabin?”

“I left my flashlight over at the camper”

After a few sessions of this we set up a perimeter and rules to give them the confidence to venture on their own.

I was happy to see them off the tablets and gaming devices for hours on end. Not that I’m against them playing on them, I love watching them learn Minecraft and all the skills playing that gives them, but I also lean into any physical games and fresh air activity they get into. It’s great to see them interact with other kids IRL. (That’s chat speak for in-real-life. See how hip I am!)

The sun was setting but we still had a couple hours left to play. So I agreed to them going back to the playground after they grabbed sweatshirts from the cabin. Mom tells them to watch for cars and with a swagger that only a cool kid can have, they are off. That cool kid swagger is real. It made me remember the feeling of the summer before 6th grade. Knowing that you’re the oldest class in school, taking that allowance down to Sprouse Reitz and grabbing a red rope and a mega squirt gun.

Roughly half an hour later my two return to the camp. They are looking for s’mores before returning to the final play session. As we are prepping the delicacies, my daughter informs me that all the other kids at the park are running away from her brother, calling him a creeper.

My dad brain clicked into overdrive. My chest puffed up. I’m about to do my best Conor McGregor walk across the campground. Neither of the kids seem too razzled, so I prod a bit, I can’t quite wrap my head around this story. Why aren’t either upset after being treated like that?

So after s’mores, I watch them ride back over to the park. I slide a fresh cold one into a coozie and slowly make my way over to observe.

My kids are the only ones in the campground that use the bicycles kickstands. I look around the play area and keep an ear open for the taunts I expect to hear.

That’s when I get it. It all makes sense.

Keenan has a zip up hoodie based on the Minecraft game. The hood zips all the way down to make it a mask, and the character is called a creeper. In the game, once you attack a creeper, they turn into TNT and blow up. Keenan is a creeper on purpose, and he’s chasing the kids around the playground.

I turn Hattie’s black hoodie around so she can have a mask too. I tell her that now she is an Enderman and she can play too!

I hope that swagger sticks around a few decades!

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