@ and I took Lucas to the "bark park" today. I know of few better places to take a six-year-old kidlet and an 80-pound dog who have been surrounded by various sets of four walls during a week of downpour. We spent nearly two hours among the other sun-seeking dogs and their drivers.
When we first started going to the dog park, both @ and Luke would stay close to me, with Luke eventually giving in to curiosity and dogness to venture forth and join the ranks of random pooches enjoying the park.
Today, Luke never stopped moving. He wandered, sniffed, wrassled, chased, mounted, marked, marked, marked, sniffed, lather, rinse, repeat. He gently stopped by when another dog approached @, just to be nearby. He's fun to watch with his big slobbery dog grin as he jogs to and fro.
But watching @ today was even better. He followed Luke here and there, saw dogs he wanted to meet and talked to their people, and introduced Luke to potential pals. His favorite dogs of the day were two massive Great Danes. Meanwhile, a German Shepard puppy named Bear was quite fascinated with @ and kept venturing over to visit him. When a Springer Spaniel knocked him over, @ giggled and stood up with a grin -- much to the surprise those who expected him to cry.
Ever the "worker," he took a post at the water faucet as the concierge. He greeted the dogs and their owners, making it his responsibility to keep the bowls filled. He obliged the dogs who preferred to drink right out of the spigot. He was quite serious about his role.
He generally walked around with a comfort and confidence I never knew at that age, and not for a long time past it. More than anything else, I am grateful. I am grateful to know that he has no sense of the fears I had as a kid. And yes, to know that I have not shared those fears with him and that I am part of helping him become that confident, cheerful, creative little boy.
I learn from him as he learns from me. That makes me the lucky one.