Some other stay-at-home dads were over for a mid-day bar-b-q and beers one day during my first year as an at-home dad. During that time, we held our kids and enjoyed one another’s company. After everyone left and I was cleaning up around the house, my one-year-old crawled towards an empty beer bottle and lifted it to his mouth. Like the good father that I was/am, I quickly grabbed my camera to take a picture. That was 18-years-ago, and I hadn’t jumped on the smart phone bandwagon yet. So, I used a real camera. In fact, it was that type of camera where you dropped the film off at the store to be developed. Crazy, I know.
It’s amazing what fathers think about when they have kids. From my son’s earliest moments, I envisioned him playing sports, throwing a ball back and forth with me in a park, and playing with Star Wars action figures on the floor. I’m glad to say that during my 18-plus-years with my first-born, I got to do plenty of all those things. There was another moment though that I looked forward to, and that was drinking a beer with my son one day.
Having a beer is a communal time for me. While sharing beers with friends, conversations run through a gambit of topics. Nothing is off the table and true feelings are often shared. There are also moments of tranquility and simply existing joyfully with those you care about. When on vacation, I try to have those moments as much as possible.
After my son graduated high school, my family took a sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands. One evening, we found ourselves at a restaurant. The legal drinking age in the BVI is 18 and as we looked over the beverage menu, I told my son it was fine if he wanted to have a beer. I figured since he would be joining the Army and have all the country’s responsibilities on his back, he could be introduced to the responsibilities of drinking responsibly. I’m not naïve enough to believe that was his first beer ever, but it was our first beer together. He chose his beer, and I chose mine. I gave a small toast to the whole family, and we casually drank our beverages.
Many years ago, I thought about the photo the two of us would have together. Maybe we would lean our shoulders together and clink our glasses. Maybe we would raise them in the air. Maybe I would bestow upon him some next level advice. But none of that occurred. In fact, we took no pictures at all. We simply sipped our beers and ate our meal. It doesn’t mean the memory wasn’t impactful. At one moment, I glanced across the table and watched him lift the beer to his lips. His face and body had changed, but he’ll always be the little boy that I held in my arms as a baby and tossed around a ball in the park. He’ll always be the boy I sat next to on the floor and played Star Wars with.
As I stared at him, I thought about pulling out my phone and snapping a picture, but I resisted. Our first beer isn’t stored on my computer or with the plethora of other photos in my iPhone. Nor is it floating around on social media. It’s with the other treasured moments banked in my heart.