I spent my whole work day writing today’s blog post, it’s 1:19 AM, and I’m starting another one.

I’ve never done this before. But tonight I’m happy and sometimes you have to capture the happy while you have it.

I love parenting and holy carp it’s hard! I love all our kids–so much–and I’m not nearly as good at parenting as I thought I’d be.

That’s okay. I wish I were a better dad, but I know they know we love them. Parenting is, above all, faithfulness to keep showing up. That’s what I know. It would be a short blog post.

Tonight, Corin and I played goaltimate–a cousin of ultimate we play indoors–and we were teamates for about half the night.

We had a blast!

A few things I need to tell you.

Corin has developed a love for ultimate in this past year.

Corin has gotten serious about getting in better shape, on his own. When his parents tried to encourage more activity, he balked. Dug his heels in. Big “nope.” Then he woke up one day and transformed himself from inactive to very active. I don’t have to understand parenting. I keep showing up.

Corin also went from slowly developing the courage to join the game to talking serious smack and letting me know he aims to dominate me in this sport he loves. I laughed about having a tiny little window in which we got to enjoy the sport together before he decided I must be crushed.

My son improves at this sport almost every time we play. I can see tangible progress in nearly every aspect of his game.

Finally, in utter honesty, he lit a fire under my backside. I still love ultimate, but the once-roaring flame of sheer grrrr that has energized me for the past…well, thirty-plus years, had diminished down to the pilot light. Not out, but not exactly burning white hot. More like “Oh, okay, yeah, I can still see it in there. Uh-huh. It’s still going.”

I’m not sure what result Corin expected. He wasn’t gently chiding.

Having a fourth child eleven years younger than your first child is weird. The me that Rowan grew up with Corin didn’t experience. I’d changed significantly fifteen years later, when he started really remembering, and yet more in this past decade. I loved playing sports with each of our first three kids, and they saw me coach in Nicaragua.. Corin was too young then to play on teams with me. “No two children grow up in the same family” is indisputable wisdom, in my opinion.

Tonight, we played hard for two hours. Ran our butts off. I’m now in good enough shape to run for two hours straight with a few minutes between games. Thanks to hiking Two Bears…and to Corin.

My dad–whom I loved deeply and who was both a tremendous man and a difficult human being–got chronically ill when I was young and never fully recovered. He had been a great athlete, more successful at a higher level than I’ve ever been, but by the time I was ten, he could not run and play sports with me. He taught me to play basketball, football, and baseball, worked with me, and hit me thousands of grounders. But he’d be forced to stop for minutes at a time to cough and struggle to get his breath back.

Math is even more weird than a large span between kids. You subtract and realize this was your parents…at your age. I’m fifteen years younger than Dad was when he died. I’m twelve years older than he was when his lung problems first emerged. Dad was 39 when I was born; when Kim had Corin, I was 38. I committed to staying an active dad while Corin was young. It wasn’t Dad’s fault he couldn’t be, and I know he despised and resented it. I promised myself I’d do everything I could to keep playing.

I can’t imagine playing a sport with my dad when I was a teenager. He barely survived his final year of teaching, which was my freshman year. When I was fourteen. As Corin is now.

We rode home from the game, Corin and I, and we reviewed the highlights of our night. I reminded him of great plays he’d made. He reminded me of a D (defensive play) he’d made against me. We laughed about blunders, ours and others’. We agreed that tonight we might have had our best night (thus far) playing goaltimate. In that ten minute drive, I was happily exhausted.

But more than that, we were happy together.

I don’t know how long we’ll play together. At some point he will be much better than me, as promised. He may develop other interests and stop playing. I could injure myself and that could be that.

I’ll remember tonight.

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