I suppose I don’t have to look far beyond myself and Ana to find their motivation. I’m a photographer and Ana is a model. Children learn best by example, whether good or not, and that mirror has smacked me in the face more than once, I regret to admit. But then there are days like this that make me smile.

We needed a change of scenery, literally, so we took a drive this past week to Mount Charleston, that weird place just a few minutes north of Las Vegas where they have pine trees, snow in winter, and little else resembling a desert. We took the kids there, and like all forests we encounter, we turned it into an adventure.

I told them about mountain lions, scorpions, and sasquatch and told them to be on the lookout. An incentive, I have learned, to keep them from straying beyond rescuing distance and to not handle things that are better off left alone. I’m sure there is a book, or volumes of books, asserting the dangers of alerting your children to dangers, but it would have been too dangerous for me to google a better solution while driving. So I did it the old fashioned way because it works. Other than the sasquatch reference it was pretty good advice for any city slicker heading to the bush I think, no matter how old. They were alarmed and the van fell silent for a split-second but as it turns out, they still like pancakes, mac and cheese, and no one wet the bed that night or since. Everyone slept like a baby, even the baby, and they all want to go back, despite the dangers, in fact, probably because of the dangers. They are, after all, my kids.

I digress.

We did reach a point in the day when the absence of catastrophe created a wet blanket of ease that fell upon our adventurers. I pulled out my phone to spice up the moment and immortalize the kids being kids. As soon as I did their imaginations sprung back to life, and they decided they were all supermodels. It was one of those parenting moments that make you laugh, but you try to stifle it, so they don’t feel embarrassed. This will be one of those stories though that we will hold close to the vest for years only to delight in telling it on first dates, weddings, and other such opportunities.

A lot of people wonder why I would want to raise kids at this point in my life. I think a day spent in my shoes would answer that question in volumes. Shaping a life is the highest honor a man can ever experience. I’ve served my country, my community, my family, my friends, and employers. Nothing I have done in my 61 years compares to the time I have spent loving and being loved by my children.

I only wish we had room for more.