This past weekend it was Zach’s birthday. And given that he’s been studying in Montreal for the past four years it was the first actual birthday we’ve celebrated together for a number of years.
Clearly, he had the choice of what he wanted to do on his special day, along with his meal choices.
Initially I had floated the idea of driving into Brisbane, parking at the Powerhouse farmers market and going for a walk along the river before eating and buying a present for him.
The night before his birthday he told me that he had a change of plans in mind…
His preference was to get up early (leave home at 6:00 am) and drive up to Woorim Beach on Bribie Island and go for a long walk along the beach. Then we could figure out was next.
No worries! I love getting to walk on the beach so readily agreed!
It was a perfect morning, low humidity (it is summer after all), few clouds, light breeze and best of all that it was low tide so a wide-open beach.
Nothing better than an early morning walk with the sand between your toes.
However, the absolute best part of our morning walk was our talk.
It’s great when your kids (although Zach is now 23) just want to spend time together, talking and enjoying each other company. ❤️
He was reminiscing about the best present I ever got him.
I immediately knew what it was… the Atlas from his fifth birthday!
As a kid I had always been obsessed with history and geography and loved the old beaten-up school atlas I had at home which had been passed down from my older siblings.
Zach has always been a studious guy in that from the time he could sit up by himself he would always “read” books. Initially the picture books with animals and dinosaurs… the usual kid’s fare.
But it was more than that, he would absorb his books and sit for hours quietly digesting the differences, rather than play with other toys.
One of my favourite activities starting from when he was about 2 years old was to take him out to the airport on weekend afternoon and park at the end of the runway and as the jets took off tell him what the different airlines were.
It wasn’t long before he knew the logos and insignias for all of the international airlines and would correct me if I was wrong. He did the same when we were driving and could name all the brands of cars just by the shape and logo.
So, when his fifth birthday rolled around, we decided that an old fashioned Atlas would be just the trick and keep him occupied for hours.
This weekend he explained the impact of that gift and how it has shaped his current life. ❤️
Who knew that a gift to a five-year-old would have such a strong and lasting impression not only on his childhood but on his adult life?
Zach talked about the joy of having the atlas and pouring over it throughout his childhood. Most surprisingly, how it has helped him in his history studies. ❤️🙌🏼
Even the version of the Atlas we got him back in 2004 has changed significantly in terms of countries and the ebbs and flows of borders and country names.
He still has it stored at his mums’ place in Toronto and thought about bringing it to Australia when he moved over last July. However, given the size and weight of the Atlas were difficult and costly to ship.
Now I’m not talking any old Atlas… this thing is an absolute beast! Its almost a cartographer’s version of an Atlas being oversized at 45cm x 30cm along with it’s own protective box.
He related to me that as he is studying history it’s important to also have a deep understanding of world geography in that they go hand in hand.
Thus, providing him with virtual leg up on his peers and contemporaries in this area has been incredibly valuable so far.
The other powerful gift that he said I gave him was the introduction to history at an early age. These two combined have charted a path for him and his life.
It’s strange how a love I had growing up has been nurtured and passed down, but for him it’s more than just a passion. It feels as though its somewhere deep within his DNA.
For dinner I made Southern Fried Chicken with steamed broccoli (his favourites), then before he leaves for Canberra we have a list of his favourite meals all planned out, culminating in fish & chips from Abbey Road in nearby Redcliffe.
It was an awesome day together… ❤️
As a dad I cherish these one-on-one moments and actively store them away in my memory bank, just as I did with the day he was born along with the other important memories throughout his childhood.
It also highlights the feeling of loss with not being able to spend the day with Sam (her 21st birthday was last week) on her birthday…
Fingers crossed that next year I will be able to spend their birthdays with them in person. 🙏🏼
Until next week