From Formula To Five Guys

I went to the Wisconsin Sportsshow with Ben this past weekend. It's kind of become a new tradition with us. He liked it so much last year that I made it a point to get tickets in advance of it this year. It's held at State Fair Park and is the heaven of all things outdoors.

Before the sportshow, we went out for burgers at 5 Guys in Brookfield. Ben has been on a quest for finding the ultimate burger and got a gift card from his cousin for Christmas. While we ate we talked about the muzak that was on in the restaurant. It was Nirvana and we joked about how you can never tell what Kurt Cobain is saying and while all the Nirvana songs are good, many of them sound the same, just different grunge lyrics.

While we were eating and talking, it struck me as really nice being able to relate to him as more of an adult than a kid at this point. In past years, going for burgers with him usually meant, a burger for me, those godawful chicken nuggets for him and the overriding subject was which toy would be in his happy meal. Let this serve as a warning shot to those of you with small ones. They grow up awfully fast.

That, and stay away from the chicken nuggets.

I guess that's two warning shots.

The days of diaper studies, mixing formula, (what do you mean we're OUT of formula? It's 8:00 on a Sunday night, and we're out of formula?) searching for lost nuks, ear infections, naps, temper tantrums and runny noses are behind me, for sure. These teens are different creatures, loveable in different ways, and the moments of connection and dialog, outside of the craziness that we call day-to-day life, mean more to me every day.

After we ate, we drove down to the sportshow and went in. Like last year we stopped at the motorcycles and four wheelers and dreamed a little. We both agreed this (photo) is the kind of motorcycle we would like if we could get one. Not too laid back, and not a crotch-rocket.

We joked about how it would be nice to just come to the show with $25,000 and say "I'll take the 4 wheeler and the boat." Then we spun into a crazy sequence about how we would ask if the 4 wheeler had gas in it and a hitch, and if it did, we'd hook the boat up to it and crash it through the doors and drive away.

In other words, we were just a couple of stupid kids talking and joking. (Of course I'm a much older kid.) That was what I liked. We didn't have to buy anything to have fun. Just being there, dreaming and laughing was worth the price of admission.

As we wandered around the show, we gravitated toward entirely different things. I always drifted toward the fishing displays and the resort brochure tables. Ben tended to veer toward the archery, air-soft guns and hunting knives. Both of us enjoyed the boats and took a good look at the armored military Humvee. (We didn't linger there as the recruiters were close by and starting to hover.) Then we ambled over and shot some BB's (Dad won 46-41) and then on to watch the dog retrieving for a bit.

And so while our interests were different, it doesn't dilute the beauty of being together, father and son, talking about "guy stuff". It's something I clearly need to do more of. The thing I discovered about teens in my three years of middle school ministry is that most of all, teens just want to be listened to. They want to be respected, valued and listened to. So that's what I tried to do.

And I had a great time doing it with a young man I'm proud to call my son.

Blogging off...


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