Feeding a Bear

He sat there staring — all furry and quiet. Safe in his domain.

Through a pair of chain link fences, my son stood there wide-eyed, seeing for the first time an animal that he had only seen in books and videos. I wished I could crawl into his head and read his mind. Was he wondering about the sheer size of the animal? His strength? Did he wonder if the animal could talk? His thoughts fascinated me.

Then we heard a voice.

“Would you like to feed the bear,” a woman said.

“Yes,” said my son, barely skipping a beat, with an excitement usually reserved for treats, trips and brand new boxes of Lego’s.

I forked over a buck and watched the woman apply a hot dog to the end of a long metal pole and hand it to my son. She helped him guide it through the fences. While they prepared the snack, the bear lumbered over to the fence and stood up. He watched my son and kept a closer eye on the food. Within a second, the hot dog disappeared. My wife and I clapped, thrilled that our son got to experience something so cool, so new, so memorable. He beamed like someone who had conquered a longtime goal, barely stopping to breathe before reliving every detail of his adventure.

And that, for me, is what parenting is all about — creating childhood memories and moments that they will remember and smile about for years. They are shared memories that maybe cost a little bit of time or money or planning but are priceless and timeless.

As a kid, I had lots of adventures. My parents immersed my sister and I in sports, the arts, culture and travel. It wasn’t lavish by any means but it gave my sister and I solid foundation of knowledge and life experience on which to grow. Could my parents have done more? Of course. Every parent, except the super wealthy, probably could.

Feeding the bear and moments like it — standing in line to see a favorite character, spending a few extra bucks to fulfill a dream or foregoing a few hours of sleep to wake up and see the sunrise are some of the things we do to give our boys that special feeling of experiencing the new and meaningful. Maybe we go a little overboard but our kids are only young once and we’re only parents of small children for a short time.

And whenever we crave a quick thrill and a memorable moment, we know a bear who’s always hungry and absolutely loves hot dogs.

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The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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