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Who will teach him to pull up his pants?

     It was one of those beautiful spring Saturday mornings that thrill you. When the sun is out, the air is suddenly warmer and there are tender green shoots peeking up in the flower beds. The kind of day you remember. The kind of day that makes you remember.
    Out on weekend errands, we drove through the neighborhood passing rows of houses, many with people in the front yards talking to neighbors, enjoying the sunshine.
    When we stopped at a red light I looked over to see a man playing with his young son. The little boy was behind the wheel of one of those motorized child-sized toy cars. A Power Wheel. In this case, a Jeep. He was steering but his father was behind him, helping him push the little vehicle up a particularly steep place in the front yard.
I watched them as we waited.

     The house had been recently renovated. I’d seen the couple that live there working late in the fall, anxious to get the painting done before winter set in. The lawn was neat and the shrubbery was well-groomed. The man, in his late 20s or early 30s, had on his Saturday clothes. A long-sleeved t-shirt, long baggy basketball shorts and running shoes.
    Then I noticed his shorts - worn low on his hips, as fashion dictates - had slipped completely down and the elastic waist was tucked just under his bum.  As he bent over, helping his son, the rest of us were treated to a wide-shot of his boxers-covered rear end. I laughed out loud.
    You can dress like a kid, I thought to myself, but when you’ve got one of your own, it just doesn’t work.
    The light changed and I drove on.
     We had one of those little jeeps, too, when our children were small. We got it for my daughter and it took a few lessons for her to get the hang of it. My husband was patient but she kept hitting the reverse switch and plowing backwards into the azalea bushes by the back door. She’d roar with frustration, her father would lean over to guide her and they would try it again.
    When my son was old enough he took to driving like a natural. Just a few minutes with dad on a Saturday morning and he was off and running. If he went backwards, it was usually on purpose. To, say, push his sister into the azaleas.
    Other saturday mornings, other lessons with my children and their father flashed through my mind.
    First bike rides without training wheels. Slow-pitched baseballs in the backyard. BB Guns and tomato soup cans on the fence. Roller skates on the driveway.  
    “Like this, son.”
    “Listen to me, sweetheart.”
    The man and the boy I’d just seen have years of Saturday mornings ahead of them. Things to learn. To discover. To explore.
    That little boy is lucky to have a good father to show him the way. Except, perhaps, when it comes to fashion.
    I guess someone else is going to have to teach him to pull up his pants.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at

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Cheryl-Anne Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement. Cheryl-Anne is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country.