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Last Saturday Adam and I had such an incredible day out at Principle Park. I wanted to treat him to something really special, since he’d recently written a poem—“The Tide Pool”—that had been selected by the Des Moines Register as a finalist in its poetry contest. I wanted him to know how proud I am of him, so I decided we’d take a limo ride to the stadium to catch the game, and I found an incredible local company, that treated my son and I with nothing but kindness throughout the day.
I’d been dropping a few hints here and there throughout the morning about a surprise excursion, and Adam had been trying to figure out what it might be (his guesses: Blank Park Zoo, movie theater, Zombie Burger). So when the black stretch limo pulled into the driveway, his eyebrows shot through the roof, and he looked at me, his mouth gaping, as if to ask “is that for us?”
I nodded my head, and he squealed with glee as I told him to go check out his ride. The sharply-dressed chauffeur gave him a brief tour of the car and addressed him as “sir” in response to each of Adam’s excited questions. I must say, it was a beautiful vehicle and Adam climbed in and out of the cabin while the chauffeur introduced himself to me and smiled warmly at Adam’s delight when he popped his head out the window to shout, “Dad they’ve got TVs!”
So I hopped into the cabin where Adam was already exploring the spacious offerings, and let him know that he was partially correct when he’d guessed earlier—we were going to Zombie Burger before catching an Iowa Cubs game. He clapped his hands and did a little victory dance he’s been working on—his variation on the funky chicken. I’m not sure whether he was more excited about the game, the limousine or the fact that he’d be devouring a “Planet Terror” burger within the hour…
The ride was a dream. The vehicle rode smooth, and Adam could barely sit still as he flipped through the channels on the TV, all the while launching a barrage of questions at our driver through the window (“How fast does this car go?” “How much does it cost?” “Can I drive it?”)—all of which the chauffeur patiently and happily answered.
Once we got to Zombie Burger, I was only able to pry Adam from the cabin (and his new friend) with the promise of onion rings. And the food was, as always, superb. Adam decided that he might end up possibly driving a limo when he grows up, or maybe living in one at least as he drives across the country on an epic road trip one day.
After lunch we hopped back into the limo, which was ready and waiting for us, and our chauffeur greeted us warmly and energetically. I could tell Adam was just eating up the VIP treatment—he was such a hoot to watch.
At Principle, I was even more grateful for our ride when I saw how packed the lot was—we simply rolled up to the gate, hopped out, and moments later were in our seats with a big bowl of popcorn between us (although I’m not sure where Adam found room for all this food after the massive burger he’d wolfed down…).
I couldn’t help cracking up as Adam tried out all of the taunts he’d been learning from the kids on his baseball team (“Saaaaa-WING batter batter”), and even though the iCubs lost, we kept our chins up and promised ourselves that NEXT game would be different—we wouldn’t go so easy on them again…
Afterwords, we hopped back into the limo and stopped for a quick ice cream cone before finally heading home, where Adam made the chauffeur promise that he’d bring the car over again sometime, and the chauffeur winked at him and said he’d see what he can do.
Adam was too excited to go to bed (according to him…) but his eyes started to droop even amidst his protests of “but I’m not tired,” and it wasn’t long before he cashed out on the couch next to me. I carried him upstairs to bed, tucked him in, and he sleepily told me “this is the best day ever” as I kissed his forehead.
And it truly was. I couldn’t help but think back to my Grandma, the woman who’d introduced me to the iCubs—easily the biggest fanatic I’d ever meet. She had all kinds of gear and she’d keep track of stats in her own little stat-book that sat next to her recliner in the living room. I was fortunate enough to get to tag along with her to Sec Taylor whenever she’d attend the games in person, and I’m thrilled to have brought this tradition with me into a new generation, so Adam can participate in that same excitement that my Grandmother shared with me.
Family has always been important to me, I think because I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandma, at her house where every Sunday all of my aunts and uncles and cousins would gather around her massive kitchen table (so big for such a small house, but that’s what her priority was) to enjoy the incredible meals she’d cook for all of us.
One of the things I remember the most strongly about her is that she would go out of her way to involve me in her interests, and to encourage me to pursue my own. She taught me so much, and brought me everywhere—the botanical center, the Des Moines Art Center, the symphony, Principle Park (Sec Taylor back then), and anywhere else she thought that maybe I’d get to see something I hadn’t seen before, to experience something new.
So one of my priorities growing up was to have a family of my own, and to get to share these same sorts of experiences with them. I’m so grateful I get to share my world with my son, Adam, and now that he is eight (eight! It’s strange just to write the number!) I’m excited to get to introduce him to some of the cool things that Des Moines has to offer, so he can look back when he has his own kids and hopefully draw from these memories the same way that I have.
And since I can already feel how quickly time is passing, how fast my boy is growing up, I decided I’d start this blog to help set these memories down in some kind of physical form that I can hold on to, that I can point to. And in this way, I’m hoping to not only commemorate the profound impact that my grandmother had on me, but to recognize the ways her interests and passion still move me and shape me, continually teaching me how to be a good, engaged and supportive father.
So welcome to my blog. I’m Ken, an associate Professor in the Humanities and single father. My son is my world.