My story was never supposed to go this way.
I wasn’t supposed to wake up with unfocused fifty-plus eyes, only to be met by two round orbs asking me, ‘Yayo, are you sleeping?’
There he is standing before me.
A new and improved version of another little boy we met many years ago, today a man on far away journeys, entrusting us his son (and a daughter) to our care.
We’ve laughed, cried, had endless conversations, eaten hamburgers, made quesadillas (‘Yayo, you make the best croqueta quesadilla in the world’), disciplined each other and had an overall good time. All the grand, parental feelings that have risen to the surface during this visit are overwhelming. As my mother would say, ‘this is too much for one heart…’
I am good with kids, even if my parenting style is less conventional that most. Some of the kids who have grown up near me refer to it as ‘Tio Juan’ Boot Camp. And yet through the years I’ve had many, many graduates who still gravitate to my realm of oddity.
I can play catch and burst into song; wrestle like a ninja turtle and have tea with a princess; run around a park with aimless precision or fly a kite with the skill of a pro; I can read a book or deliver a story made up from the world of fantasy my brain rents daily; I can bake a cake or cook a meal and all the while engage the kids around me as if this were a Food Network competition. Given the opportunity to play a flute, I would be the Pied Piper. I can’t help myself. My story was never supposed to go the other way. I was never going to be conventional.
So, the boy stands before me and soon his sister joins our morning meeting (‘Is Yaya sleeping?’) and I realize it’s time to get out of bed and begin the adventure that is today.
I get out of bed, stretch my tattered bones and inflexible physique and it is off to the races again. By now my vision has focused enough to look at my sleeping wife, my two charges and the projection of my day.
With imaginary flute in hand, down the stairs I go to embrace the life that was never, ever supposed to go this way.