I love watching Robert run. Especially in cold weather, when his parka has immobilized his upper body and he skitters across the playground, legs flailing, like one of those “Jesus lizards” that can run on water.
At the park, Robert and I often chase after a pair of little rubber soccer balls. We bring a spare because of the unwritten rule that anyone who brings accessories better be prepared to share them. Little boys always want what you have—especially if they have something similar at home and Nanny forgot to bring it.
Usually, it’s no big deal. Stuff gets borrowed, stuff gets returned. But every so often, Robert is beset by ardent four-year-olds who promise to share but end up playing keep-away, leaving my little boy to trail after them like some pathetic little hanger-on.
At this point, Daddy the Playground Darwinist sits back and watches, because Robert has to learn sooner or later that physicality matters. If the abuse becomes excessive, however, Daddy the Defender intervenes (because Robert should also know that I’ve got his back), playfully sends the ball in Robert’s direction, and stifles the urge to lay out one of these annoying little guttersnipes with a casual hip check.