Things were not going as I like them on the vacation. My two daughters were always running ahead and leaving me behind. They were unknowingly, in small ways, being rude to me. I had to consider, how do I change their attitudes without preaching to them or being otherwise punitive? Then it came to me: I would rename and reconstruct our relationship. I would no longer be the Father but become the traveling companion. This simple emphasis over the next two days changed everything. You can leave your father to fend for themself but not your travel companion. Who Knew?
It is a new phase: I am no longer the adventure king but one of three adventurers. My children view the father as indestructible and always in control. The fellow traveler may need help or you want to stay closer to them to keep the group together. You even enjoy your fellow traveling companions more. Fathers are such bores; you have heard all their stories before. The traveling companion has interesting insights.
Of course I miss the father even if the daughters do not. He was able to demand and command things. He had ultimate say. He was the master. But he probably needs to be shelved; the children are their own adventure planners. It was pleasing to hear the oldest talk about how she had led a group of eight of her friends on an adventure to Amicalola Falls. Or to watch the other plan an outing for her and her friends to a coffee shop. And even in China they are mapping out the next day’s activities and how to get there and where to eat. The father is not needed as much.
It used to be I could keep up with their every move. Now by five my feet and the rest of my body are ready to stop. They, with the freshness of youth, have a few more things they have yet to do. So I leave them to their own devices so I can go back to the hotel and collapse until dinner time. I will never have their energy again, which is alright. The more frequent resting has made me even more aware of my surroundings. They see more and do more but my seeing is more pronounced and expansive than when I had endless energy and did not stop.
Having less energy makes me more selective on my activities. I spend more time on things I view as important and less on things I could care less about. Of course I have to be careful I do not miss stretching myself because of my selectivity. So I must have activities that make me think differently and act differently.
All of this transition comes as I celebrate yet another birthday. Birthdays do not mean much to me; new aches and pains come and go. Less flexibility is here. I am a step slower, ten percent less energy. But I am more comfortable in my skin and usually only fall prey to passions that I want. This makes life so much easier. When we returned from our trip overseas, my birthday came the next day after the plane trip. My two daughters feted me very well as their mother was still in China for another week. I was their father and they showed me their appreciation. In their handmade birthday card they made me were these words you are the best father and also the best traveling companion we could ask for. Times are changing. They will always need a little fathering but they are preferring a traveling companion on the rest of the journey of life.