Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wild Men

Lately, the weather’s been nice and Jackson and I have been doing some exploring.

From Park Trip

Before Jackson was born, Bethany’s friend Katie bought us this really nice stroller that has rubber wheels and a rugged frame. It’s a lot like a jogging stroller but smaller and more maneuverable. Behind our house is a field where kids ride four wheelers and dirt bikes and there’s a nice pathway through it where we can drive the stroller. As you go further south across the field, there are some woods that separate Central Park from our neighborhood. In the last week or two, Jackson and I have become very familiar with these paths and trails. The first time I took Jackson out to the field, I thought he would get fussy and want to get out, but it never happened. We made it all the way to the playground without a peep. He played for awhile and then wanted back in the stroller. This is when I knew that we had discovered something special. That was last weekend.

Friday (2/6), as soon as I got home from work, I put Jackson back in the stroller and off we went to explore the far reaches of our beloved park. Going east, there are a couple of ponds, so we trucked around the pond levee and watched the ducks and geese doing whatever it is that they do.
From Park Trip

I found a trail going down the levee and across a small creek at the bottom where large oak and sweet gum trees abound. Jackson was wide-eyed, taking in the sights. At the corner of the pond, I picked our way down the levee and across a wooden walking bridge to a gravel road. We followed this road past an oak tree that must be over a hundred years old…wait. We needed to go check out this tree.
From Park Trip

So, I unloaded Jackson near the tree and we discovered the wonder of acorns. Acorns everywhere! Jackson didn’t know what to do with them. He wanted to pick up each one and examine it and then show it to me. I said, “Let’s take some to mommy.”

The next thing I know, he has two hands full of them showing them to me- a stash any squirrel would be jealous of.
From Park Trip

In case you’ve not been around Jackson for any length of time, I’ll just tell you- he’s magnetically attracted to water. I think he may have inherited that from me: I’m part fish. In the midst of his acorn hunt, he noticed that beneath the giant oak tree was a trickling creek with sloping banks. Throwing caution to the wind, his eyes locked in on the stream and took off down the hill. “Jackson SLOW DOWN!” I said as firmly as possible. He did, but slowing down seemed to interfere with his planned descent causing his feet get tangled (as they often do) leading to a head first slide. The older acorns all over the ground acted as rollers, speeding up his downhill trip.

He finally slid to stop in a small cloud of dust and acorns. “You okay buddy?” I asked.

He looked up at me and gets this big grin on his face as if to say, “I don’t know what just happened, but Wow that was fun!”

“Your mom would kill me if she saw that” I said to him, though more to myself than him.

Must be more careful.

So I helped him down to the water’s edge, positioned him several inches away from the water and showed him how to throw rocks and make splashes. Well, this was just too good to be true. It’s like a having a giant bucket of water and all the balls you can throw; best of all, daddy’s okay with it. Heck, he showed me how to do it.

The experience was fun for both of us. For him, the sheer fun of experiencing something new and exciting, for me, the joy of passing along another one of life’s simple pleasures: throwing rocks into a creek. With each throw he crept closer to the water until the toes of his shoes were getting wet. I would pull him back and it would start again. He wanted so bad to get in that water. I kept finding myself wondering how long until I can teach him to skip rocks…

From Park Trip

Soon the wind picked up and the sun got low – it was time to head back home. I had to pull Jackson away from the creek. I hated to, but it was time to go. There’s something in me that relishes watching him take pleasure in the things that I remember most fondly from my childhood. It creates a feeling of completeness in me knowing I’ve kept such a sacred right of boyhood alive for another generation and fostered a love for God’s creation.

At first glance, Jackson doesn't look or even act like me – he’s his mommy in a boy form. But out in the wild, out where a hundred year old Mississippi oak tree meets a meandering creek, I found a boy who is just like his dad. A boy who will play in the dirt and from daylight to dusk and never want to stop. A boy who is oblivious to danger, immune to heat and cold and looking for adventure at every turn in the trail. A wild man in the making following his wild little heart.

Thank you God for my son.

~ Ben

Note: Sunday afternoon all three of us went on another strollering excursion. You would think that Jackson would be getting tired of all that sitting in the stroller. After we got home, I was in the kitchen and he was outside playing on the porch when I noticed him being very quiet (always a sign that he needs to be checked on). When I peeked out the door at him, this is what I saw:

From Park Trip

C'mon Dad, let's go!


Lauren McKnight said...

Ben is a wonderful writer. I felt like I was there watching them in their special moment. And the last picture and comment was priceless!!

bethany said...

jackson is one lucky kid. :)

Ben said...

Yes he is...lucky to have such a fabulous mom. ;)

Traci said...

Oh you two stop!!! Lol! Yea that was a great story! so sweet... you shoul send it in to Parents... The best things are free. :)