Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To Do


Sometimes, I sit in front of my computer and wonder what I’m going to post on my blog. If I write something and do a poor job of it, my wife will look at me and say “you mailed it in.”

Hopefully, I’ve never really “mailed it in,” but there are times when a column hits me well before the day I write and then sometimes where I look at something I prepared for a post and totally scrap it at the last minute and compose something new.

Sometimes, though, I’m just at a loss for words.

Last week was one of those times.

It’s not that was looking for something to write. It’s that I didn’t know what to say.

Last Wednesday was the last day of school. We have just over two months before school starts again. And something in me realized that that one of my kids will be in high school and one of my kids will begin his last year of elementary school. It feels like both of them are moving to a point where they won’t be kids anymore.

The summer is already packed. My younger son, looking forward to football in the fall, is scheduled for football/agility camp this summer to get him into shape before the fall. He’ll be busy. My older son will have both band camp and boy scout camp this summer.  He’ll be busy, too. We’ve squeezed in a beach trip for one point in the summer where it’s available. My kids won’t lack for activities.

But will I find that I lack for time. They are getting busier as they get older. My time with them has shrunk and will continue to do so. Am I taking advantage of what time I have to spend with them?

I hope so.

Because as they get older, I’m more cognizant of the scant time I have left.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Goodbye to My Favorite Author


I like to read.

It’s a common thing among people who write for a hobby. Writers enjoy reading. Because of this, writers have favorite authors, people whose books we’ve read over and over. People whose new books we buy when they come out. I’ve reread Tolkien’s The Hobbit a number of times and am currently introducing my sons to it (in advance of seeing the movie). I love the works of Barry Eisler, Haywood Smith, Karen White, Dianna Love, and Debby Giusti.    

However, when I heard last week that Maurice Sendak had died, I realized that my most favorite author was gone. Sendak’s works were around when I was a kid, but I don’t remember reading them back then or even hearing of them. I missed out on a lot.

When my older son was born, I got my second chance.

My older son developed like all other kids for the first eighteen months. After that, he went into a shell. We had trouble getting him to talk at all. We tried numerous therapies to bring it out of him. We also increased the amount of reading we did with him.

We use to take him to bookstores. Any book he showed the least bit of interest in, we purchased it. Still, we didn’t get the reaction we hoped for.

Then we discovered Where the Wild Things Are.

My son smiled with delight each night as more than once the monsters “roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth.” Then, when the time arrived, my son jumped up and yelled, “Let the wild rumpus start.”

We would dance around the room, pretending to have a party. Then we’d come to stop and finish the story.

We had a lot of wild rumpuses in those days. A lot of happy times. When the movie came out, I took him and his younger brother. But the story on the screen didn’t quite live up to the book.

Because of this story, my wife and I bought other Sendak books to read to my son, books such as In the Night Kitchen and The Nutshell Library. My son loved them all. He could repeat them with me as we read.

I’ll always be grateful to Mr. Sendak for his creations.

I owe him a lot.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Sendak, from one of your biggest fans.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Finer Things




My 10-year old has a knack for appreciating the finer things when it comes to food.

Sometimes, though, I wish he’d be like every other kid.

I recently returned from a business trip to Rio. I didn’t want to go crazy with the souvenirs, but I did pick up a few things: Brazilian coffee, a popular brand of flip-flops, and rocks from southern Brazil that supposedly have the power to help children study.

I also bought chocolate.

A popular Brazilian confectioner, Kopenhagen, makes delicious chocolate. I picked up a box that was high quality and somewhat expensive. If I offered it to the kids, I figured they might view it like a truffle. If they didn’t like the taste, then my wife and I would be happy to finish it off. Or we might save it for later. The pieces were so big that eating one at a single sitting amounts to a calorie bomb that would make Krispy Kreme look light by comparison.

On my first night home, Saturday, I pulled out one of the large chocolate treats, telling my 10-year old that he and I could split it as we watched our family night movie. He took one bite and then had trouble sharing it after that. I told him that he must have liked it.

He said it was “okay.”

I should have listened to my instincts. On Sunday night, we found him with chocolate wrappers in hand, remnants of the chocolate treat dotting his fingers as most of the treat was already on the way to his stomach.

He’d finished the box.

I’d like to say that this was the first time something like this had happened, but we’ve seen it before. Four years ago we took a trip to Japan to visit family and friends. While sightseeing on the northern coast, we found an upscale sushi restaurant. My wife figured that we could get the kids soup and rice, a typical Japanese staple that they ate often, and that she and I would enjoy sushi.

And then my son asked, “Mom, what’s that pink stuff?”

“It’s raw fish,” she answered, hoping that would be enough to kill any interest.

“Can I try it?” he asked.

Leave it to my younger son to discover that he likes sushi in an expensive restaurant.

It’ll likely be a long time before I have a chance to return to Brazil. However, when I go, I’ll be sure to pick up some more chocolate.

Thankfully, neither my wife nor I eat caviar.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Return of the Invisible Man


He knew I was coming.

My eighth grade son’s middle school was holding a blood drive. They do it about three times a year. Last time one was held, the Red Cross gave away blood drive t-shirts and I got one for my son. He also got whatever credit students get for getting people to come to community events like a blood drive. I told him I’d put his name down for similar credit when donated this time around.

I don’t think he expected to see me at school however.

I checked in at the office, required of any adult who visits a school, and then followed the signs to the blood drive. On the way, I saw a line of students headed back to class. I saw my son in line.

My son looked up and saw me. My first thought was to wave, but I kept my hands down. My son had only glanced at me and flashed a repressed smile. He’d expressed recognition through his eyes but that had been it. No wave. No “Hi, Dad.” No form of public acknowledgement.

I realized that would be the best I’d get.

At 14, my son was beyond the age of admitting in public that he had parents and there definitely wasn’t any way he would want people know that the balding, chubby older dude was his father. He would know longer run to me as he did when he was younger. I also knew that it would be that way for the foreseeable future.

Until he gets old enough that it doesn’t matter anymore.