When I arrived at the roller skating rink Saturday for my niece’s 7th birthday, I thought, I’ll hang out, support my friends who were hosting the event and mostly be present to show my niece that I care, that she matters and that there are adults in her circle that she can always count on.
Earlier that morning, as I was driving up to Orange County I did a little frenetic inventory of all the things I would not get done on my one day off by making the trip, errands, bills, projects and the like. It took only an instant to flip that thought process around as a far more substantial thought took over, I thought about my beautiful Uncle Teddy from Long Beach Island New Jersey.
When I was a kid, he would drive a couple hundred miles time and time again for those birthdays graduations and big games that were touchstones in my life and in the lives of my siblings Susan and Mark. He did it without being asked, he did it without expectation of anything, he did it because he loved us, to respect his brother my grand father and mostly because he wanted to be part of the fabric of our childhoods.
The big hug and gigantic smile I got from niece when I arrived and surprised her immediately wholeheartedly reinforced my decision to make the trip.
She coerced into commandeering some skates and before long I was taking some laps with her and her dad, one of my best friends. We did the hokey pokey with 200 other folks, we laughed at each other as we fell and we helped each other get back up.
Roller skating, especially for people that aren’t very good at it, is sort of like karaoke. It’s an activity that forces you to get real and not take yourself too seriously. Skating puts you close to other people, friends and sometimes strangers who value fun and child like adventure more than they value looking good and appearing to be squared away.
The skating, the dinner and opening of presents later, the hide and seek…were all just more moments to be around my beautiful nice as she maneuvers forward on her young life path.
I’m certainly no Uncle Teddy, but because of his generous and loving example I know more definitively how emulating his ways with the little ones in my sphere can lay some strands of love on the deep infrastructure of kid’s heart.
Train smart, have fun and never give up,