2014 was a year of learning to let go of things I cannot control any longer. So it was fitting that on the second to the last day of the year, we made our way to my favorite place, Yosemite National Park. I even bought an annual pass, since I figured that if I go just two more times in the next year it will pay for itself.
This place is just indescribably beautiful and interesting and fun. I lived here for nearly 15 years before I ever went, and now I wonder what was wrong with me? The very first time, in May of last year, we went over Tioga Pass on the way to Reno, after getting lost and ending up on the Valley Floor for an hour or so too. We went back two weeks later for a family picnic at the Cathedral Picnic grounds, where Ben threw rocks in the river and the ducks quacked for him. It was fantastic, and I have been waiting for an reason to go back.
So on a Tuesday, on vacation, with Daughter #4 having an all day party and sleep over, Cami and I started discussion what to do to get out of the house? San Jose Zoo? No… hate going to San Jose, the traffic is always bad no matter when you go. Sacramento Zoo? Too cold. Stockton Children’s Museum? Closed today. Something in my head clicked, and I blurted out, “Let’s go to Yosemite and play in the snow!”
Cami agreed and a few minutes later we were loaded up and headed to the Sierra Nevada’s, just like my parents used to do on a whim when I was young. Except back then, it was the Colorado Rockies or the Utah Wasatch.
For the first time, Ben played in the snow and loved it. He fell down, got up, fell down, took a snowball to the chin, threw several snowballs back (or tried to anyway), and finally got stuck in a snow hole and lost his glove. It was around 28° with an occasional blast of wind, but it was perfect and loads of fun. When he’d had enough snow, we headed on down to the Valley Floor, and while Cami took a break, Ben and I stood on a small wooden bridge over a dry creek.
He edged towards the creek, and said, “I want to go down there!” as he pointed to the bottom of the little bed, maybe two or three feet deep with several rocks and lots of vegetation. Looking at the slippery hard rocks and angle of descent, I said “No, don’t.” I can be overprotective, PERHAPS TO A FAULT, which is all just a part of the feeling of losing control over being able to protect him from everything all the time.
The last year started with a lot of promise and interest in things, I felt like I was personally and professionally headed in a very good direction. But as the year passed, things unraveled a bit, leaving me with virtually no control over my professional future and ever less control over my own show’s content and tone. Cami is leaving her job that she loves because it just takes too much time away from Ben and I. Over the past months we’ve have less and less time together, an despite her requests to be reduced to eight in fourteen (from nine), the hospital said that they couldn’t, and so she decided to go back to her old job at a part time schedule. Not for money or stress, but because we were not spending enough time together. The past three weeks have absolutely crazy with her working even more than ever as she transitions, and it turned out that pretty much the only day we’ve had together as a family, we discussed what to do and ended up heading to Yosemite.
I held my breath a little bit as Ben picked his way through the rocks and brush to the bottom of the gully. “See, Dad! I did it!”
And then he ran up the other side.
It is just another moment in life that I realized that he is growing up, way to fast, and every day he is closer to being able to do things that I wish he wouldn’t than he was yesterday. He then made a point of doing it again, this time slipping on one of the rocks but catching himself with a smile. When Cami caught up to us, he did it again to show her too.
Just one more thing that I have no more control over.