The Last Stake

Kai followed me on his hands and knees as I drove stakes into the ground. Our tent was setup, and I was driving the last few stakes to hold the rainfly in place.

I figured Kai would realize I didn’t need his help before running off to the play area to meet up with his brother and sisters. But he stayed at my side watching my every move.


I handed him a bag containing the last few stakes. He’d smile and pull one out when asked. This went on until we’d made our way to the tent’s entrance and the final loop without a stake.

This time I handed Kai the hammer. He spent the next five minutes slowly tapping the stake into the ground. He used both hands and took a break every third swing or so. I considered lending a hand, but decided to watch instead. This feisty little 2-year old with floppy blonde hair. Makes me wonder if I provided the same mix of joy and frustration to my parents when I was his age.

When he could not longer see the head of the stake, he handed the hammer to me and said, “All done, dad”.

As I drove home alone this evening, I thought about the many interactions I’ve had with my kids over the past ten days I’ve had off work. We spent one afternoon picking blueberries and another at the children’s museum in Seattle. We went Rollerblading together and spent a couple of hours at an arcade playing pinball and Skee Ball.

But the small experiences like I had with Kai weave together to form the best parts of fatherhood.  I wish I had another 10 day off work to spend with them.