When I was a little boy I wanted to run with my dad.  If he went running without me I’d sulk or cry.  I couldn’t keep up with him, so we ran at the track, but when I had to stop from exhaustion, which was within a couple laps, I’d sulk or cry.  I’d sit in the bleachers getting angry at my dad, myself, and everything else because I couldn’t keep up with him.  

I didn’t realize what a pest I was being until I got older and went running with a dog who did the same thing.  My dog could probably keep up with me, but is easily distracted.  A child is often incapable of even basic levels of empathy when dealing with his parents, and I never stopped to consider that I was ruining what little solitary time my dad was able to squirrel away for himself in those days.

I suppose one reason I didn’t realize it was that he never seemed all that upset about it.  We’d walk home and sit on the porch, and the cat would climb up into his sweaty lap.  I suppose at the time I required great outward expressions of emotion in order to believe that people had them.  If I was being such a pest, I thought, he wouldn’t be so nice about it.  

I didn’t understand the amount of pleasure a man might take in being with his son, no matter what that son did.  And perhaps because I lack imagination, I was never able to really understand that until just now.