When He Grows Up, He Will Be…

Yesterday, as our family walked through the airport, I realized something had changed. Our oldest, who usually moves a step slower than the rest of us, was walking ahead of his younger brothers and me. He wasn’t whispering to me at the back of the line “I’m tired” or “I hate airports.” I wasn’t whispering back, “keep up with Dad”, because….

…he was walking at a fast clip with Dad.

Father and son moved through the airport together, stride for stride, in lively conversation, making each other laugh. Two peas in a pod.

They share a goofy humor tinged occasionally with wit and old soul. They compete over technology purchases and know-how. Our son has adopted his father’s odd mix of political opinions, peppered with a splattering of mismatched ideas of his own.

Over the last fourteen years, I have often thought that they are happy with each other, so non-judgmental, because they are nothing alike. I was wrong. Watching their backs, their easy comfort in each other’s presence, I caught a glimpse of the adult he is becoming.

Like father, like son.

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That Was Actually Funny, He Said

My teenager and I were sitting on the steps with the dog. It has been a dry winter, and with more than a week of warm February weather, everyone is watering. At our house, the sprinkler needed a quick fix in the yard after it fell off the hose when my son moved it from one spot to another. “I can’t get it back on.”

I was putting my shoes on to help out and hoping the dog poop had been picked up before he had watered the grass. ”If you don’t pick the poop up first, then it’s gross to pick up when the grass is wet.”

“It wasn’t me,” he said. “Dad started it. Blame Dad.”

So, I belted out a little South Park “Blame Canada!”

He chuckled. “Mom, that was actually funny… and surprising.”

“Didn’t think I had any South Park in me, did ya?”

Battle of the Bands

Kids doing the dishes. Blasting music from an iPhone. Rocking to “All the Above.” Maino.

Dad enters. His iPhone overwhelms the airwaves with country. “Let Me See You Girl.”

Dishwashers switch it. “Hall of Fame.”

Dad. “May We All.” Country.

“Dad!” Kid dishwashers walk out. A labor strike.

Dad finishes the dishes, singing country alone. “Tennessee Whiskey.”

The seventh grader re-enters. Dishes are done. “This is terrible, Dad. You need to listen to real music.”

Dad acquiesces. “Closer.’ Chain Smokers.

The boys are back. Peace reigns.

When Your Thing Sticks Out

“Mom, don’t you hate it when your thing sticks out instead of down?”

We were getting out of the car for a day at the pool.

“What thing?”

“You know, your thing.”

“Ohhhhh, well see, I’m a girl. I don’t have anything that sticks out.”

He looked so serious. So I added, “But it usually sticks out if you are touching it too much or excited.”

“Not with me,” he said. “With me, it’s when I am thinking really hard about something.”

“Like what? Girls?”

“No!” He punched me, grinning. He is, after all, only eight.

“You should talk to Dad. He’s a boy. He’ll have some ideas for you.”

The Last Hours Before the Deadline

One night in high school, my Dad stayed up all night with me while I drafted a research paper for school. I do not remember which paper it was or why I was so late getting to it. I wrote in my barely legible longhand, passed him a finished page, and then he typed it for me on his IBM Selectric typewriter. We worked in the basement to make sure the typing didn’t wake up my mom or sisters. I am sure I cried at least once.

It was my first and only all-nighter. I felt so sick the next day that I pledged never to put off big projects again.

And today, I am paying the universe back for my father’s good deed and late night support about thirty years ago.

With my seventh grader sitting at the computer moaning about not having enough sources or ideas for how to expand 30 notecards to the required 40 – and making no progress for at least an hour – I couldn’t help myself. We spread out his 30 somewhat repetitive notecards on my bed and put them in order, looking for holes in the story.

Then, I asked questions.

“You always make things so much harder than they need to be!” he responded. Still, he Googled the answers, and turned them into more notecards. I reminded him of other sources he could use.

“You are stressing me out!”

Another notecard.

I told him to find a good quote in the book he is reading. Another card until he had 50. He renumbered them, still spread across the bed, then bound out the door after his brothers, already enjoying their snow day.

It banged shut on my “but you still have to do the outline!”

Just giving what I owe the universe, and hoping it’s done before midnight.

I Wanted to be a Dad

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a Dad.

I was reminded of that today when my eight year old asked why I almost never ride my bike.

My husband is taking the two older boys on their first official ride, an eight-mile kids’ version of Elephant Rock. They got their Elephant Rock t-shirts and race number stickers for their helmets. They did a warm-up ride last night before dinner. And the excitement this morning was high.

“Mom, why don’t you ever ride your bike?” I know it was his way of saying, “I’m nervous. Please come!” But what I heard in that moment was, “Mom, why aren’t you as fun as Dad?”

I am staying home with our four year old who, though he learned to ride a “pedal bike” last weekend, is not quite ready for an eight-miler.

And that’s how it typically goes. Moms stay home with the little ones when the adventure really gets going.

My husband has earned this special time with the kids. He works long hours, arriving home just in time to get them all riled up either right before dinner or just before bed. I have the luxury of being with the boys all the time, especially in the summer, when we spend hours at the pool. I see them with their friends. I go to their basketball practices. I do homework with them. I read them stories. I get to snuggle with at least one of them at least once a day. I really get to capture the little moments of their childhood in my memory.

I know I have the better deal! And I love being their Mom.

The problem is that my husband just makes the day more fun for all of us.

And on a day like today, when they are off to conquer the world on their bikes with Dad in the lead, I remember being a little girl who wished she could be a Dad.