Sunday, April 5, 2015

I know I did one thing right

I'm not saying I don't do a lot of things right but this one I know I got right.

Daddy daycamp began almost as soon as my kids were born. My wife was working from home then she went back to school.... It was my job to keep the kids occupied and I loved it. I waited until they were eight to quit my full-time job, I should've done it the day they were born. But that's another story

I embraced being a dad by embracing New York City.  Every day with my kids was like a new day in a new city I just acted like a tourist and had fun.  We became familiar with all the iconic institutions that make New York City great.  We were regular at the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Hall of Science, and all the institutions of the New York Zoological Society.  I realized that these places were just for staring at cages or artifacts.  They were places to work or volunteer.

It occurred to me that when I was a young teenager my summer opportunities were limited to two different kinds of things.  Hanging out at the beach/pool club or getting a crappy job.  I did a little of both until I was about 19 or 20.  Hanging out was not good for much.  I had jobs fast food restaurants and retail establishments.  Looking back those jobs were worse for me than doing nothing.  If your first job is a fast food restaurant you learn to hate going to work, you hate your boss and you hate the customers.

When my kids was still in diapers I noticed the youth guides at the Prospect Park Zoo.  They were cheerful kids who would hang around exhibits and help engage my toddlers.  I asked one of them how young they could be to start volunteering there.  The kids said 14, then I knew where my son would be in 10 years.  You see, as far as I'm concerned when it comes to domesticated animals in the cage that out of the cage it's just vermin.  We did the gerbil thing, we also had a few turtles and a handful of fish.  As far as I was concerned it would've been much more efficient and less smelly if we would've just flushed money down the toilet.

Someday, he might narrate the show
Last winter, I didn't push my son very hard... I gently let him know that he was now old enough to be a Discovery Guide at the Prospect Park zoo.  My prodding was very gentle.  He was almost 14 and I knew I pushed him too hard he would push back.  (Because I remember when I was 14 my parents would've told me to be careful on train tracks I would've been hit by a train.)  I just sent him a link and let them check it out himself.  I would've gone with him to the orientation but I was in intensive care.  So maybe the fact that he went by himself made it work out all for the better.  When he came to visit me in the hospital he told me about the program.  I will always remember his exact words.  "Dad, it's a tiered program, if I stay for all three years they might let me narrate the sea lion show. "  Bingo, I knew my son was not to make minimum wage at a fast food restaurant.  He was going to make friends and gain experience at the zoo.

He was there to three days a week all summer.  And I spent the whole summer in the hospital.  When the summer ended he switched to a weekend program and was there every Saturday.  Last week I got a new electric chair.  Being pushed around the zoo wasn't that fun but it was nice when I got to drive myself there.  This Sunday I son took a busmens's holiday and gave me a tour of The Zoo.
Apparently, this goat is called Ringo

With pride he told me the species name of most every animal in the zoo he also told me they were called.  He told me which sheep were friendly and which ones were grumpy.  He introduced me to all the other volunteers, and I got to meet his boss.

There was a lot of good feelings going around.  My son was proud of himself and I was pretty proud of him to.  And in a little way I was pretty pleased with myself for steering him in that direction.  I was also very happy to be out of the house in my new Electric Chair



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