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Chris Gay: As triplets turn 12, time keeps moving along

Posted: October 11, 2017 - 12:23am

A few weeks ago, the triplets and I were talking about riding bicycles.

My son is a champion bike rider. He pedals all around my parents' house out in the country like he's little Lance Armstrong (before performance-enhancers). My girls on the other hand, not so much.

As I told the girls, not teaching them how to ride a bike is one of my failures as a father. Then, Hannah chimed in.

"One of your many failures."

Thanks, Hannah. You're out of the will.

Her statement shook me for a second. One of my "many" failures? I thought. Then, I thought some more. Then, I thought a little more. Wait a minute. I've been - and I am - a great dad! I don't need Little Miss Overexaggerater believing otherwise.

The triplets - Rachel, Hannah and J.T. - turn a dozen this week. They're in this weird one-year gap where they're not small children anymore, but they're not teenagers either. They can still eat off the kids' menu. Barely.

That's such an in-between age. Twelve. My kids are in sixth grade, three years removed from third grade, three years away from being high school freshmen.

There are several truisms in life. Death. Taxes. Do-nothing Republicans in Congress. There's another truism as well: time flies.

When my triplets were babies, people wiser than me would say to enjoy them while they were young. Why? Because as you know, time zips along faster and faster by the day, especially when you become an adult.

In 2005, the triplets were born a little premature, each of them weighing less than four pounds. On the percentile charts, they barely registered for the first few years. Those percentile charts, though, are as worthless as those sports apps giving a team's "chance of winning" during a contest.

Through the years, the triplets have grown and grown and grown. Hannah, the middle child, is 5-foot-3. I'm hoping she has a growth spurt before our Upward basketball season and she shoots up another 17 inches so she can start dunking.

J.T. has long hands and feet he hasn't grown into yet. I don't need him to have a growth spurt by basketball season. He's a guard. He uses his quickness to harass other players. I would like him to grow before baseball season. All of a sudden, it's our last year in this 9 to 12 age group at the Y. I need the boy to get bigger so he can start hitting the ball harder, farther.

And Rachel is the petite one, though she's not far behind the others. She's not athletic like the other two, but she likes being involved. I'm thinking about making her an assistant coach when I coach her brother and sister in basketball and baseball. That way, she can help me and be a part of the team.

That's the main thing about parenting: being involved. There's a fine line between micromanaging your children and also spending quality time with them. For goodness sakes, put down that phone and play a board game with them. If my kids think they're going to beat me at Monopoly, they're sadly mistaken. I can't wait till they're old enough to think they can beat me at Trivial Pursuit.

When I'm not spending time covering your children and their various high school sports, I'm usually with mine. With my wife sick Sunday, the kids and I went to the mall. There, we saw one of my old friends I hadn't seen in awhile, a good guy I played tennis with a lot before the triplets were born. Afterward, they asked about him. I explained I have several friends I don't see as much of these days. The kids understood. It's because I choose to be with my boy and girls.

I was 31 when my children were born. Many of you had children in your 30s and understand. When you go to college, get married in your late 20s and wait a little while longer to have children, you appreciate things more. It's delayed gratification - something that seems to be in short supply in the world today.

For 12 years (and eight months while they were in the womb), I've appreciated my children. In that time frame, my wife and I have made many memories with the kids. We've gone to the beach multiple times. We've been to the mountains. We've even made the required trek to Disney World.

One of my favorite things I did when the kids were in elementary school? Attended field trips. I went with them to the zoo. I went with them to Steed's Dairy. I went with them to Stone Mountain. It was all a lot of fun, and I know they enjoyed me being there with them. (Side note: I wish elementary-age children took field trips to the jailhouse. A little fear goes a long way. Whenever one of my children used to act up, I'd drive through our neighborhood to the house with the policeman's car sitting out front. I offered to leave them there. For some reason, they always declined.)

These days, I think about the field trips we're planning to take in the future. There are water parks throughout the land to visit. There's our big Washington, D.C., trip we've been talking about for awhile. There's a trip to eat chocolate in Hershey, Pa., and then over to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell, run up the Rocky Steps and eat a legitimate Philly cheesesteak. Maybe we'll drive up to see the Statue of Liberty. Maybe we'll keep going into New England. Maybe we'll circle over to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. and then over to Cleveland to spend several hours touring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.There's so much to see with the kids before they become adults - and such little time to do it.

The kids are 12. For others, that's hard to digest. Not for me. I've been there every step of the way.

Life hasn't been perfect the past 12 years. After all, I've failed to do some things, like show all three how to ride a bike. Perfection is only a state of mind, though.

Several years back, one of the triplets asked if we were rich. My wife and I laughed. Far from it. Our house is your average three-bedroom, two-bathroom dwelling - not a mansion, not a shack. We don't wear expensive clothes. We don't drive luxury vehicles. Are we rich? Not in money. Not yet.

While one definition of the word "rich" relates to money, it also means having a large amount of something. While we may not be wealthy, we are rich in love. God blessed my wife and I with that 12 years ago, and that's something we count our blessings for day after day. Happy birthday, Rachel, Hannah and J.T. Here's hoping we make more wonderful memories in the next 365 days. Love, Dad.

 

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