it seems like just yesterday that we were sitting in the receiving room of the corona hospital, waiting for our little thunderclap newman to make his way to the stage. yet, it seems like ages since i sat there next to him on the warming table, singing “hey jude” and “everything comes down to poop” while he wrapped his newborn hand around my pinky. time seems to fly, yet at the same time if you think back on all of the memories, it seems like a lifetime. linear time is funny like that.
i’m a big fan of celebrating birthdays over a period of several days and tc’s fifth birthday has been no exception. we had a big bounce-gym party on wednesday, an airshow at march afb on sunday, a celebrity meet-up [more about that later] on saturday and a family get-together tonight. tc got the share can and a birthday crown at pre-school on thursday as well. it’s been a big deal all week and i think i’m having as much fun celebrating it as he is [as you'll see later].
my mind has a hard time wrapping itself around tc’s age, though. he seems so much older than he really is. i’m constantly having to remind myself that he’s actually only turning five today. i’m sure most parents have experienced this phenomenon. there’s so much that kids understand and we can let our guard down on how emotionally developed they are based on the intelligence that they display. but he’s growing up. and up. and up. my little man isn’t so little anymore. he almost fits into my smaller cycling jerseys.
and that was why i gave him my cannondale robot cycling jersey. it was a little on the smaller side, so i thought it might be something fun for him to grow into. he’ll put it on every once in a while and ask if it was a real jersey that i used to train in. i’m thinking that he thinks it’s a pro jersey, but even so, sure, i’ve trained in it. we’ve watched cycling over the years in our house and i think it is the only sport that we’ve consistently watched. he can name more pro cyclists than any other sports figures. there’s an off chance that he might know tim tebow’s name, but a much greater chance that if you mention thor hushovd you’d get a “GOD OF THUNDER” response or breathe contador and he’ll start booing you. so, when the tour of california came to town this past week, i thought it was high time that we get out there and see what it’s like to rub elbows with the greats. now, i’ve been going to the toc for years, but never to a start. i’m always one of the dingbats that rides up a climb, waits, waits, waits and then runs along side the struggling riders cheering like a madman.
we loaded up with our friends a10 and shelbasaurus and headed out to ontario for stage 7, the ride from ontario to mt. baldy. we arrived plenty early and by the time we walked through the team staging area, the buses were just beginning to show up. we caught a quick glimpse of big george talking with a friend at the bmc bus, and a bunch of the domestic pro guys, like the spidertech team, team bissel, united healthcare, etc. we had really wanted to see jens voigt, though, so we were on the lookout for the radioshack bus. we’ve cheered for jens for years in our house. he has a superhero name, too. we call him “hardman”. and when jens crashes, he hurts the ground. jens, as most cycling enthusiasts know, is the good-guy of the peloton. always excited to see the fans, always willing to give his opinion on things, always positive and has the hardest work ethic in cycling. he’s a good role model, to say the least.
so when he tweeted his “bee” story on thursday, i had to read it to tc. that got tc excited about the possibility of meeting jens.
“daddy, did he REALLY eat a bee?”
“daddy, did his lip get better?”
after a break from the pre-race action, we walked back into the staging area and happened to be standing on an open space of curb when the radioshack bus pulled up and parked right in front of us. kismet. we parked ourselves on the curb and waited. each soigneur, photog, mechanic or manager that came out of the bus would elicit the question, “daddy, is THAT jens voigt?” until, much to our surprise, someone came out of the bus that WAS jens voigt. i was sort of shell-shocked. there he was. in the flesh. and SMILING!
“there he is, buddy! hey, jens, would you sign my son’s jersey?”
now, we had brought the cannondale jersey with us, but in the course of wandering through the festival, i had spotted a kom jersey and ended up getting that for tc instead. funny thing, too, the small mens just looked like an over-baggy t-shirt on him. dang he’s getting big. anyway, tc was sporting the kom polka-dot jersey. i handed the sharpie to jens who knelt down and got to eye level with tc and they started talking.
tc: “jens, do you like honey?”
jens: “oh, yes. i love honey. i try to eat honey for breakfast every morning. my kids love honey, too!”
the exchange was quick, but he was awesome with tc. i loved that he knelt down to get to eye-level with him. he was happy to sign, upbeat and obviously enjoying his day. but what i love even more is that now tc has a face and an experience to place with the name. when we cheer for him, he KNOWS jens. jens was COOL to him and signed his jersey. now there’s even more incentive to watch the races and go wild for our “hardman”.
as a proud dad, i’m hoping that for this birthday i’ve given him a memory that will stick with him. and i can wish that maybe, just maybe, that memory will be something that will influence his activity levels and choice of sport as an adult. maybe, just maybe he’ll grow to fill that kom jersey more than just physically. and maybe, just maybe i can be there to give him a high five and say, “remember when you were five?”
happy birthday, meine kleine affe.