Joy on the wings of headbutts

Published 8:20 pm Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Halloween, I had one of my latest uncle outings with my niece, Samantha. I took her to Busch Gardens for the Howl-O-Scream event, not so much in the hopes of her having a good time. At least that wasn’t the primary goal in taking her. I knew I would take a bit of sick joy in watching her be terrified by all the ghosts and ghouls lurking the shadows. (Hey, we uncles need to have our fun too.)

During our jaunt through the haunted forest at Busch Gardens, my niece got so scared she jumped up and head-butted me square in the jaw. Now, I haven’t been knocked out since my first real date (Boy, what’s-her-name really packed a punch.) But the force of my niece’s headbutt buckled my knees and dropped me flat on my back smack-dab in the middle of the haunted forest.

As I dragged myself off the hay, I had a new found respect for just what it means for my niece to be hard-headed. Sensing she’d had a good time as we were leaving, I vaguely remember her talking on her cell phone and saying something to her mother—my sister—about me being like a “big kid” sometimes. And it just dawned on me, when all my faculties returned to me after the knockout, she was right.

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So when I got the chance to come out to Suffolk’s Holiday Parade this past Saturday, I had hoped to approach it with less of a big kid’s and more of a photographer’s eye, just to see if my photographs would be any better. But, I must say it is very difficult when all the marching bands, floats, characters and performers took to Washington and Main streets.

There’s something very infectious about being at a parade. The music, the dancing, and the gigantic horses just make you want to march along with them. But I carried on in my best professional demeanor with camera in hand and the child in me somewhat at bay. I made it through the marching bands, the dance teams and the little dogs marching along, snapping photo after photo.

But just as I thought I would get through this event in a totally professional manner, I was head-butted, yet again. This time the culprit was the Humpty Dumpty character in the parade. After he shook the hand of a child, Mr. Dumpty darted toward me and we smacked right into one another. With some laughs and mutual wishes of holiday cheer, Mr. Dumpty proceeded on down Main Street having jarred loose my inner child.

So, for the rest of the parade, it was the little kid in me taking the photos. And when I got back to the office to review the photos, I realized he’d done a pretty good job. He’d probably done a better job than Mr. Professional could have in this case.

So, I learned that the child in each of us has more redeemable qualities than just being the reason why we still enjoy the simple things like a parade. He or she may even be a good photographer to send to that parade. I want to thank my niece and Mr. Dumpty for reminding me of that.

I just hope I won’t get any more aspects of my personality unleashed via the business end of a head-butt. Because the next thing jarred loose just might be a tooth.