When Col's cronies come over, they grub through the latest selection of toys, crunch handfuls of pillow-shaped cereal, then politely inquire "Where's Dan?"
Like most daddies, Col and Rose's father is often working during the business hours of children, but when Dan appears it's like Paul Bunyan has thundered down from the mountain. He drives a rusty truck and wields tools on his belt. His free time - much like the kids - is stacked high with "activities."
When the kids are in Dan's care, they might be slurping doughnut crumbs off their fingers on some snarled mountainside at 8 a.m. They could be racing the Durango & Silverton train through downtown Durango via jogging stroller. Strict adherence to naptimes, safety codes and apples with the skin cut off is traded for thrills like a big arm cinched around one's small body while leaping across a roaring creek.
Summer weekends, I cringe from my camp chair while Dan teaches "wood-splitting for urchins." The kids slam hammers into Dan's ax, parked atop a piece of fragrant juniper. "Five hits," he goads and whack, whack, whack, Col splits the wood in three. Even Rose, 2, whose tender sensibilities are offended by the supersonic whine of the vacuum, steps up to bang metal on metal with her sticky toddler paws.
To our family's padre, this is precisely what I'm thankful for on this Father's Day:•Inventing games where kids fly through the air, balls fly through the air and where kids and balls fly through the air simultaneously.
•Not fretting over distractions like frostbite and hunger when crouching with the kids behind the ancient, stone hunting blind at dawn.
•Cutting through the blinding flotsam of emotions and emerging decisive and unapologetic when there are life-altering decisions to make, like which preschool Col should attend this fall.
•Buying the jumbo marshmallows at the gas station for our campfire instead of checking the natural food stores for an agave-sweetened, marshmallow-like alternative.
•Never assuming my job is easier than yours.
•Bypassing my thoughtful reading on sibling rivalry and child discipline to shout at the kids who're fighting over the princess shoes: "Get it together, kids!"
•Trusting that Col will eventually learn the fundamentals of Colorado boyhood - swimming, skiing, biking - and instead cultivating a 3-foot tall archery master who can wallop a bull's-eye with his homemade bow, because that's what you love.
•Not succumbing to the great temptation to overanalyze the children's personalities when you could be sleeping, or watching basketball.
•Never assuming that Rose isn't an excellent candidate for junior wrestling champ, and pushing her back on the mat with her brother, reminding: "throw your weight into it, girl!"
•Letting me stay in bed until the coffee's ready.
Not all families sport a father pushing lawnmower on Sunday afternoon. Single mothers and lesbian mommies may do just fine without a man in the house. But to our papas, imparting ingenuity and testosterone to the family, this day's for you. Happy Father's Day.
Rachel Turiel has lived in Durango 14 years. Her column runs the first and third Sunday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.