From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

Father’s Day

For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.

William Blake

“Hey, Bubba,” I shout to my three-year-old son from the couch in my family room. “C’mere a minute.”

At once, I hear the familiar and rapid thump, thump, thump as he comes bounding into the room, a bent paper towel roll in one hand and a fistful of crayons in the other.

“Yeah, Dad?” he inquires as I pull him onto my lap.

“Mom is taking your sisters to go buy jeans, so you and I get ‘Special Time’ together at home!”

“Just us?” he asks with wide-eyed surprise and a big smile.

“Just us,” I confirm. “What do you want to do?” I ask, expecting a request for some variation of crash-’em-up wrestling or playing with his little plastic farm animals.

Spencer stands up and thinks for a moment, tapping his finger on his chin—mimicking my gesture. A huge smile erupts on his face as he rushes out of the room, only to appear moments later with a large, half-unraveled roll of bubble-wrap spilling out of his arms and dragging on the floor.

“You want to pop bubbles?” I ask, confused.

“And watch a movie!” he adds enthusiastically.

Spencer turns and rummages through the DVDs like a pirate on a treasure hunt. He emerges moments later triumphantly waving a copy of the animated hit The Incredibles high in the air.

“Okay,” I say, smiling. He loves the movie and fancies himself “Dash,” the young son of Mr. Incredible, with incredible powers of his own. When he and I play super-heroes, he is Dash—naturally, I’m Mr. Incredible.

Like some kind of techno-wizard, as virtually all three-year-olds are these days, he ejects the DVD drawer from the player, inserts the movie, expertly navigates through the on-screen menu, and hits play.

He then rushes back to the couch and jumps into my lap. As the movie begins, we grab the bubble wrap and go to town on those helpless little plastic-covered pockets of air. They don’t stand a chance.

For over an hour and a half, Spencer and I sit on the couch, snap bubbles, and immerse ourselves in the movie.

If anyone else were in the room, the constant popping sound would drive them out of their mind. But tonight, it is just me and my little Bubba, and we are having a blast!

When my arm begins to fall asleep, I stretch for the ceiling; Spencer nuzzles in a little closer. Snap. Snap. I squeeze his little legs and he giggles. Snap. Snap.

For a full ten seconds, our popping is precisely in unison and we laugh. He tries to snap the bubbles as fast as he can—his pudgy little arms tensing and releasing. I wrap him a little tighter in my arms.

I’m lost in the moment and, thinking back, I can feel my own father’s arms envelop me when I sat in his lap. I wonder if Spencer will remember this night and feel the same comfort, security, and love that I found in my daddy’s arms—so long ago.

Spencer isn’t just sitting on my lap. No, my son sits in my lap. My tactile little man nuzzles into every nook, cranny, fold, and crevice his little body can wriggle into.

For an hour and a half, the two of us hardly say a word. We just watch the adventure unfold on the screen as we unconsciously unfold new sections of bubble wrap. Our fingers mindlessly search for bubbles until we can’t find any more. Then we simply toss the mangled plastic wrap to the side and snuggle even closer just as Mr. Incredible is captured by the evil Syndrome. Spencer’s fingers slide between mine and he holds on tight.

That night I tune-out every work-related stress and pending “to do” list and immerse myself in my squishy little boy and drink up his company.

And just as he does every time, Mr. Incredible and his family save the day. As the credits roll, I peek around from the side and discover Spencer’s eyes are closed, his face so peaceful. I click the TV remote, and as the screen goes black, I just sit with him, quietly. It doesn’t matter what the calendar says. For me, today is Father’s Day.

David Avrin

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