By Craig Hastings
I suffered another blow to my ego last Thursday. My oldest son has had a chronic problem with his digestive system for several years. He has had another flair up recently so we’re on a medical mission to see if we can get to the bottom of his symptoms. Everyone knows the drill; first a test of this, then a test of that, and finally a test of the other. Thursday it was some scan of his gallbladder that would take two hours. He would be injected with a variety of “things” and as these concoctions moved through his gallbladder, their travel might indicate whether the problem lies within. He was required to have a driver after the test so I volunteered. Easy enough, the test would take place on the first floor of Christie Clinic in Champaign. This would require no early departure from home, no parking problems, no check in lines, and few people in the waiting room with me. Perfect. So for the two hours I needed to waste, I searched Champaign for Propel water and Gatorade. The newly arriving students have bought most all of it up everywhere you might normally find it.
In my hunt for my anti-cramping drinks I managed to find four cases of grape Propel and zero bottles of Gatorade. Now it was time to head back to the clinic and wait on Payton. I was sure all Payton would want to do was go home and lay down. The specialist that had done his test told me he might have an upset stomach and be a little tired after the test. I was sure he would be hungry because he couldn’t have anything but water for six hours prior to the test. “Hey Dad, when’s the last time you’ve been to the mall?” Not really I thought. I haven’t been to the Market Place Mall for more years than I can remember. If it would have been close to getting dark I would have immediately told Payton that there would be know way in h— I would go to the mall or any place else in Champaign with all the gun violence going on here. He insisted, it was early afternoon, and we were already in Champaign so, why not.
Well it didn’t take long for me to discover why not. Payton is about four inches taller than me and it is all in his legs. Not only is one stride of his one and a half of mine but, he also wants to practically run through the building. He obviously is no stranger to this mall because he knows exactly where he is going and what stores are where. So here I was having to almost run at times to catch up with him. It quickly dawned on me that I have come to a complete turn of events here. It used to be that I was the one constantly looking behind me to see if the boys were keeping up with me wherever we went. It was me that had to slow down and shorten my stride so my boys could keep pace with me. It was them huffing and puffing as I left them behind and today it’s me huffing and puffing and it’s Payton looking around to see where I’m at. It’s demeaning for me. I want to remain the leader, the lion king, the silverback gorilla, the lead buffalo, alpha everything. Nope, those days seem to be passing me by. Not only did I have to play keep up for an hour and half but, my legs were killing me the next day from the workout. All of that suffering and for what? Payton bought one new hoodie and he bought it in the first store we had gone to!
The next time we go to Champaign and I know we are going to have some free time on our hands, I’ll be prepared with a list of excuses as to why we can’t go to the mall or anywhere else where I might have to keep pace with Payton. I’m sure glad neither of my boys care to visit Disney with me again! There is no way in the world I could keep pace. I remember well both boys trying to keep pace with me at Disney when we would go. I would say that it’s just time for them to get even with me but, it’s not close too even. Nowhere near. You see, after a day at Disney trying to keep up with me back in the day, the only thing they needed to do was get a good night’s sleep and it was off to a full day of the same thing all over again the next day. Had Payton wanted me to visit the mall with him the next day there would have been no way! I was still trying to dodge the leg cramps and pain in my back for two days after our little adventure at the mall!
I’ve always been told how life manages to one day come full circle. We come into the world a helpless little baby and most of us might leave this world the same way. The only difference being we are big babies instead of little ones. Me, I’ve lived my life determined to live it in a straight line. A never ending straight line with nothing to do but full steam ahead. A never ending path to just do more today than the day before. How I was reminded last Thursday that my straight line has an ever increasing bend in it. A sign that indeed I too will someday come full circle. In the meantime, I’ll make sure I take my long walks with people closer to my age!