That was all that mattered. But for the sake of story, I’ll bring you up to speed.
I travel a lot for work. When I get home, I’ll regale my kids with bizarre stories of airport adventures or tell tales of odd encounters with fellow travelers. I will also, usually, bring them each some sort of gift.
At first, they were gifts particular to the place I had visited. Then my daughter stopped wearing the Ohio sweatshirt and my son did not like candy from Puerto Rico. So rather than spend money on experimental things that may or not get used/eaten/enjoyed, I started to go with what I knew they would enjoy.
“Daddy. Did you bring me anything?”
We started out trying to have a little family reunion every time Daddy got home from a work trip. We would gather in the family room and “debrief”. I would show them pictures we took while on the trip. Their favorites were always pictures of the plane or from the plane. I would ask them how they had done in school. “Fine” or “ok”, they would respond.
That lasted one, maybe two trips before the question was the first thing out of my son’s mouth when he saw me. He would walk in the front door and before the door even closed, with coat still on, before hugs or “hi”.
“Did you bring me something this time, Daddy?”
“I missed you, too” was my stock response. I thought we were seeing a pattern of selfishness. I wanted him to miss me. I wanted him to miss our family being together more than he wanted some silly airport store present. I kept this to myself for a time and let it roll around in my head.
It was his eagerness and excitement that finally got the gears turning. I was on a plane flying home. In my hands was a little die-cast version of the same plane I was on. I was imagining him running at me again and the anxiety he must have endured all day wondering what the answer to the question was going to be this time.
“What did you bring me, Daddy?”
That’s when it hit me. To spend all day, sometimes several days, wondering and anticipating what your father has for you. Because when he does, it means he was thinking about you while you were apart. When he kneels down and gives you that blessing that he picked out just for you because he knew you would love it.
It’s a question I don’t ask my Creator enough.
“What did you bring me?”
“What do you have for me today?”
I laugh now. It is a little selfish. But the truth is that I love it when my son asks me that. Even more, I love giving him whatever the gift is. And I love that he loves that gift.
I also love that he slept with that aluminum plane that night. I tucked him in and there it was, tightly wrapped up in his little arms.
At some point, he ended rolling over on it and getting stabbed by a wing, but that’s another story for another time.