The sunset was amazing last night, not just for the beauty of it, but for the way we spent the time as the day came to a close.
Leaning against the railing at the highest spot on the skate park in Loveland, at the center point between the concrete bowls and the wood and steel ramps, I had a great view of everything around me. The skies were wonderfully clear – a rare event for that time of day this spring. As far as I could see in any direction, not a single cloud could be found impeding my view of the universe.
Looking west, I was overwhelmed by the golden halo spread for fifty miles in each direction across the peaks of the front range of the Rockies, with Longs Peak standing so tall and clear it seemed I could almost reach out and grab a handful of snow from the drifts lingering on its peak.
The boys, William (12), Ben (10), Noah (8), and Ethan (4), and I had emerged an hour earlier from the popcorn-, soda-, licorice-, and sour-gummy-worm-fueled, green afterglow of The Incredible Hulk with a hankering for some muscle flexing. In anticipation of that need, Ethan and I had filled the trunk with skates, skateboards, helmets and pads before we picked up the other boys from Grandma’s house to head for the theater.
Noah is decent on the Heely’s, and Ethan is an imaginary expert on the Spiderman board he received as a gift from Ben a few weeks ago, but Will is truly impressive on a skateboard, and Ben’s gymnastics lessons have definitely given him an unusual level of coordination on his aggressive skates in the bowls. My boys consistently impress me with their skills, courage and behavior.
Ben was reluctant to drop-in into the 9-foot concrete bowl while a crowd of kids a little younger than him stood around spurring him on. I was proud that he didn’t succumb to the peer pressure, but after they had scattered and we were all alone on the rim of that bowl, I whispered, “I think you can do it, if you want to try.”
He slowly stepped to the edge, looked down, placed the first two wheels of his right skate over the edge of the coping, bent his knees, and leaned into that hole. Less than two seconds later, he was popping out of the opposite rim with a big grin on his face, and I’m pretty sure my grin was even bigger.
Years ago, when Will first showed a sincere interest in skating, I warned him that if his behavior ever reflected that of the majority of kids who tend to frequent skate parks, with their profanity and general disrespect for everybody and everything, including gravity, his skating career would be short.
With the help of committed volunteers at a local, indoor, Christian-sponsored, skate park, Will’s skills and character have grown by leaps and bounds. When we go to a public park, Will keeps his mouth shut and lets his skating speak for him. I like to watch him. He is seldom distracted by the surrounding tomfoolery, and he is truly fun to watch.
Noah hasn’t developed into much of a skater, yet, but he is also fun to watch as he easily befriends the other kids his age who are hanging around. He is not intimidated by them, but he understands the look in my eyes from across the park, and quickly separates from the crowd to hang-out by me when I silently communicate that I’m a little uncomfortable with the attitudes of his new buddies.
The day before, we had a boys’ haircut party in the garage. I got my clippers out and gave three of them the only haircut I know how to give: fuzzy. Noah wanted to be a little more radical, though. He wanted to be bald. So after I clipped him down to the nubs, I got my razor and shaved him clean. It’s weird. Later, he said to me, “Dad, I can’t believe you made me bald! Now, I look like an idiot!”, and then he laughed so hard he cried, and I laughed right along with him.
A lot of life will happen between now and the time my boys will be watching their own sons at a skate park, or something like it, somewhere in the world. I don’t know what life will bring to them in that time, or what God has in store for them.
I’m sure it won’t always be great behavior, a lack of injuries, and beautiful sunsets.
Today, though – and today is all I’ll ever really have – I’m basking in the glow of days well-lived on the edges of ramps and bowls with helmets and pads and all things just and beautiful.
Today, I’m just glad to be here with these boys. Today, I’m just glad they’re mine … at least for a little while.