My son was finally old enough to walk on his own, and my wife and I decided the park would be the perfect place for him to test out his legs. My wife was disabled, so she stayed home, but my son Grayson and I headed out. The park was two blocks from our suburban townhouse, and Grayson was eager to move on his own.
Holding his hand, I guided him down the street toward the park. The overcast sky threw a little worry in my mind, but I decided to hold an umbrella, my drone, and his hand would be too difficult. I’d been flying drones by myself in the park, and I knew my son would get a kick out of it too.
We turned off the street and into the park, and Grayson’s face lit up seeing all the trees. The playground equipment made him smile the most, but we would come back to play on that another day.
I had a palm-to-forehead moment when I realized I’d left the camera for my drone at home. Today would have made for a great home video to show Grayson later, but for now, we’d have to settle on memories alone.
Plopping down on the grass caused Grayson to do the same, and we sat in front of each other. He watched intently as I took the drone out of the box and set it on the grass between us. With a coo, he tried to grab one of the rotary blades. It wasn’t spinning yet, but he could potentially damage them, so I grabbed his hand.
“No, sorry, buddy, but don’t touch that.”
He babbled for a while as I took out the remote but kept his hands to himself. He eyed the remote, and I turned on the drone. It lifted immediately, and the biggest smile spread across his face. He tried catching the drone but I swerved the left, and he fell over, giggling. He pushed up and stood, and I steered the drone to above his head. He reached up for it and fell over backward this time, still giggling. I laughed to this time as he pushed himself back up from the ground.
“You like this, buddy?” I said, moving the drone around him slowly. He tracked it with his head for a little while before letting himself topple over to laugh from his belly. He had one of those classic baby chuckles, and it always made me smile. “Well, hopefully, we’ll have the same hobby and can fly together when you’re older.
He ignored my words and continued laughing. I sent the drone a little further away, and he stopped laughing to try and find the drone. When he was upright again, I brought the drone back so he could track it. When he found it, he reached out to it again, and I sent it further again. Confused as to why it left, he stared at it for a few seconds but started crying.
“It’s okay, buddy. It’ll come back.”
A dog barked in the distance and pulled his attention away for a second before he refocused on the drone. I brought it a little closer but weaved a figure eight around two of the trees near the drone. He watched with big eyes but stopped crying.
“I can’t wait to take you down to the beach for treasure hunting,” I said. “Mike rigged a metal detector to fit on the drone so we can cover so much more space so much faster.”
Again he ignored my words, but I was used to talking to myself when around him. If nothing else it was comforting to have someone to talk to that never talked back. Being disabled, my wife stayed at home the vast majority of the time so whenever we talked it was mainly her speaking and me listening. She also ignored most of the things I said, but that felt worse since I knew she could respond. Still, I understood and tried not to get angry with her.
One or two drops were all the warning I received, but I instantly brought the drone back to us. I feel like the little machine could withstand getting a little wet, but I was paranoid and wanted to take a few chances as possible with my prized possession.
“Come on, buddy,” I said, standing up and guiding the drone beneath the cover of a large oak. He held out his hand, and I grabbed it, and we ambled over to where the drone was. He stopped once to pick up a leaf, but when he tried to eat it, I shoved the remote under my armpit and stopped him. He had a knack for putting everything he encountered in his mouth, and I’m sure the leaf would have been harmless, but my wife and I were trying to break him of the habit. All it would take was one day finding a shard of glass when we weren’t paying attention, and it would all be over.
A downpour started a few seconds after we reached the cover of the oak. I let out a frustrated sigh as I realized I’d left the box out in the rain. Grayson went straight to the drone, but I kept him far enough back so that he wasn’t able to grab the blades.
The pitter patter of the rain against the oak leaves pulled Grayson’s attention, and I let him stand on his own. I moved over to the trunk and sat down on one of the exposed roots. I activated the drone again and flew it around under the canopy, reclaiming Grayson’s attention. He walked over to me, keeping his eyes in the sky as the drone maneuvered.
Reaching me, he plopped down between my legs and giggled as the drone flew around above us. I grew excited for what the future held. Despite the rain, we continued to have a good time, and my heart swelled with joy.