It was opening day. The first warm, dry day of the spring, so we headed to the park. It was there that I realized after 3 long years, I’d made it to the big leagues. I was going to ride the bench! For the first time, my wife and I felt comfortable sitting back on one of the park benches while the boys played.

While the bench has been an aspiration of mine since we first set foot in the park, I didn’t realize that riding the pine pony as a first timer is harder than it looks. Playground equipment is high, and my kids are small. On top of that, as I am still shoveling my own driveway and cutting my own grass, I haven’t quite gotten my paternal equity out of them yet, and therefore, I have a pretty vested interest in their well-being.

From our vantage point, I was able to really observe our boys. I watch them all of the time, but I rarely sit and observe them, especially when it’s an away game. It was a fascinating experience and while sitting next to my wife, I sat and learned about my children.

I learned that our children are fearless. So much more than I would have thought. I watched them navigate in and out of children much older and larger than themselves. I watched them climb and swing and take risks, all without even looking back to see if we were there to catch them. I watched them climb the cargo net then swell with pride as they boldly exclaimed “I did it all by myself!”

I learned that our children are stronger than I thought. I watched my sons pull themselves up high on to platforms where they once needed our help. I watched them dangle gleefully from monkey bars with a strength that left me reflecting on my poor performance during all those President’s Challenge Fitness Tests back in the day.

Most importantly, I got to see just how kind my children are. They were polite. They took turns with other children, letting them go ahead of them to use slides. They jumped on teeter-totters to totter with other children. However, what touched me the most was when they made a new friend. There was another little guy at the park. I’m not going to speculate on why, but he was by himself. His guardian watched from a car in the parking lot while he played with a sad look on his face. He came up to my guys and they took him in. They played together for the better part of an hour. They laughed, took turns, and I have to hope that they made his day just a little bit better. Even when one of them would get intrigued or distracted by whatever catches a toddler’s attention, the other would stay with their new buddy. My sons may not always be kind to each other, but they are kind to others.

Of course, we didn’t get to spend the entire time sitting. There were swings that needed to be pushed. There were scrapes that needed to be kissed and the occasional threat to go home if they didn’t stop throwing mulch. Yet when we did get to sit, I learned one of the best lessons of the day… the view is pretty good from the bench.

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