“Good lad!” Zachary patted his head while he set him back on his feet. “Now run along. Boys must be brave.”
“Understood.” Jamie seemed to have grown in confidence spontaneously, as though his leg no longer hurt and his fear had dissipated. He got right back at attempting another ascent on his gimpy leg.
The peak seemed so distant that it felt a little intimidating. His leg noticeably quivered.
“Go for it. I got your back,” Zachary called out in encouragement.
“Alright.” Jamie gritted his teeth as he turned back to the steps with renewed determination. He continued to climb.
This time, the boy was not afraid anymore, as he knew someone would be there to catch him should he fall.
Charlotte was profoundly moved by this scene. As competent a mother as she was about caring for and educating her children, she understood that there was no replacement for a father figure in their lives.
In spite of his inexperience with children, Zachary had the ability to instill patience and confidence in them, as well as have them rub off the fortitude of his masculinity.
Charlotte cussed at herself for having doubted his capability to be a good father. It would seem that her worries were for naught, as his attentiveness to her children had exceeded every expectation.
“I want to ride on the swing, Uncle Zack. Would you push me?”
Ellie acted coquettishly as she wanted some of the man’s attention for herself too.
“Sure,” he replied as he extended his arms. “Jump down. I’ll catch you.”
“It’s so high. I’m scared.”
Her stumpy legs retreated from the edge as her little hands continued to grip tightly onto the guardrail.
“I’ll go first!” Robbie seized the initiative to launch himself over with aplomb.
Zachary corralled him right away and rubbed his head. “You nearly caught me off guard there. What do you think could have happened if I wasn’t ready for you?”
“I had faith that you’ll definitely come get me.”
Robbie had begun to gravitate toward Zachary, as he felt the man could teach him to become more courageous.
“Good lad!” Zachary pinched that pretty face of his as his own lips curled into a smile.
“Here I come, Uncle Zack.”
Ellie covered her eyes as she leaped off with a shout.
The man stretched out and caught the girl in his off-hand.
She almost burst his eardrums as she continued to scream into his ear when she landed.
“I’m sure you’ve a great singing voice,” Zachary said with a frown.
“Stop it, Ellie. You’re safe now,” Robbie said as he patted on her arm.
She uncovered her eyes and surveyed her surroundings. “Wow, you did it. That was kind of fun!”
“Here goes nothing, Uncle Zack.”
Jamie’s voice rang out from the side.
Zachary turned to see that Jamie had successfully clambered to the highest point. With arms extended, he yelled the whole way down the slide.
“Well done, Jamie!”
The nurses cheered and clapped for him.
They were elated to see him back in action, as he had been positively bored out of his mind after sitting out for almost two months since sustaining that fracture.
It was with Zachary’s encouragement that he took the first step towards returning to normalcy.
To prevent that injured foot from making contact with the ground, the man rushed forward to slow the boy’s descent with his foot while he still had Robbie and Ellie in either arm.
Jamie took care to lift his own foot high to protect it as well, and came away unscathed.
“You alright?” Zachary hooked his foot under the boy and flicked him into the air.
Jamie yelped as he landed upon Zachary’s shoulders. He hurriedly clung onto the man’s head for dear life.
“Oh wow. You’re so awesome, Uncle Zack,” Ellie enthused as she clapped in delight. “You caught all three of us at one go.”
“You’re my hero, Uncle Zack!” Robbie appeared quite in awe.
“No more Uncle Zack from now on.” Zachary corrected them. “You’ve to call me Dad!”