A Simple Request

Street hockey
This was waiting for me when I got home Friday.

Mornings are pretty crazy in my house. This has nothing to do with autism, ADHD, or OCD. It has everything to do with two kids who go to different schools at different times and two parents who work and the need to wake, feed, and get everyone out the door on time.

Ryan is usually very cooperative in this effort. He follows a strict schedule — I know, shocking — and is rarely running late. He eats breakfast, watches NHL highlights, dresses, brushes his teeth, packs up his homework and his backpack and exits the house all at precise times.

Rarely does anything intervene and get added to this schedule. When something does, it’s usually unwelcome, such as a what-shoes-to-wear meltdown last week.

Friday, however, saw a more pleasant diversion from the norm.

As he was packing up his bag, Ryan stopped to ask me something.

“Dad, can you come home early so we can play hockey outside?”

Even though my normal arrival time home from work still leaves enough daylight for us to play, it’s too close to the rest of the items on the evening routine. He has usually showered and is in PJs thinking about bed.

I thought about his request. I couldn’t remember the last time he asked me something like this. Our ending to Thursday night was a rough one; this was a welcome surprise and the latest proof that each day is a new one.

“What time do I need to be home so we can play?” I asked.

He named a time 30 minutes earlier than my normal arrival. One train difference. It was Friday. I could make this work.

I told him to be ready to get his butt kicked when I got home.

All through the day, his request stuck with me. Who knows what caused him to break routine and ask for a little of my time? Whatever the reason, I was grateful for it. I hustled through the last hour of work to be able to make it on time.

And even though Ryan had a rough time after school on Friday — with another school bus delay setting him off — by the time I got there, all was calm. Soon we were in the backyard, playing our familiar brand of street hockey, except that he kicked my butt.

It was a simple request, but at the same time a rare treat. A memory for me to file away and recall when things didn’t go so well this weekend. It is said that the greatest gift we can give our children is our time. It’s true, and it provides a pretty good return on the investment as well.

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