Dear Things 1, 2 & 3: Don’t Tell the Neighbors, but Your Father Lives


Today, we hit a new low in our family and it’s only Tuesday. The children (all three boys) have systematically and in their birth order elected to replace their father’s incidental existence with their own respective surrogates.

Last Sunday, Thing 1 who will turn 14 shortly, asked a neighbor if he could join the neighbor at work next week for “Take a (Your – emphasis my husband) Child to Work” day.  He didn’t ask his own Dad if he could go to his work because a) he already did that last year, and b) he knows he doesn’t want to do what his Dad does. 

this is Thing 1 tinkering on his birthday wish last Sunday.

These seem like reasonable responses to a reasonable query. So I was satisfied. Dad was not satisfied. He was a little disappointed that his son didn’t ask him about it and that he had to learn about the shift in fatherhood from the neighbor (who also has a freakin’ awesome super-black Corvette G6) in a “hiya neighbor buddy, how’s it goin?” sort of way. T1 and our neighbor will be flying driving the Corvette on the “Take Your Neighbor’s Son To Work” day next week. The neighbor is actually a super-decent fella; married, a dad of his own two sons, and a recently retired marine who honorably served our country overseas in more than a couple conflicts. Now he works at an engineering firm where they ride around on moon rovers and get paid to blow up stuff, so T1 should have a good time. Frankly, I think my husband wants to go instead of T1. 

I’ve known the man for almost 22 years, and have been married to him almost 18 years and I gotta tell ya: I don’t know what the what he does. But if I have a kid who knows he doesn’t want to do that, and I do have that kid, it’s hard to argue.

Next …
Also on Sunday, Thing 2 (11) and his father canvassed the county in what we call Dad’s “Old Man Car” (OMC) — the chameleon of all large import vanilla-seeming sedans in that it’s got a crazy responsive 287hp engine with tiptronic and comfortably seats five plus a year’s supply of Geritol — in search of a Lego Avengers Superhero set to no avail. They must’ve hit all the big box stores, except apparently the one where it was.  

this is Thing 2, last Saturday (day before the quest) under an umbrella
with a sprinkler spraying inside it.

The build-up — from the set’s retail debut (last Tuesday), to the pandering and scheming and relentless verbal waterboarding to acquire the set: “whatcanidomomtogettheset?canidosomechorestogettheset? momdidyouknowthesetcameouttoday? canicalldadatworktotalkabouttheset? isawthesetonlineit’savailableattargettoysRuswalmart…” to the frenzied moment he was ready to catapult himself like a fighter pilot ejecting from a fiery cockpit into the cavernous back seat of the OMC, to the utterly sad lower-lip sucking in and blowing out tear-streaming grief upon return from the unsuccessful quest to the three huge stores to purchase the set — has taken a toll on my ability to form sentences and know my own name. Dribble cup please. 

Resolution to the sadness came in the form of another neighbor who witnessed T2’s weepy return from his traumatic travails to acquire the set. She text messaged me this morning about her intent to purchase a set for her own son. After various exchanges on the matter, I came home from coffee with a fabulous friend I haven’t seen in months to a bag on the front stoop.  It wasn’t for me.  It was for T2. It was the Lego set that our neighbor bought for him because she picked it up today in 10 minutes flat.  Upon T2’s discovery of the set in a bright yellow plastic bag emblazoned with the Red Lego Logo (say that three times fast), Thing 1 looked at me with an accusatorial glare and shouted above T2’s glee-fueled shriek-squeals and said, “What the what, Mom? Why does he get a gift when my birthday is coming up?!”  

I am officially a jerk.

And not five minutes ago, Thing 3 (8) asked me to call our neighbor’s son, 16, whom he considers a professional skateboarder for lessons to skateboard.  When I optimistically and, clearly naïvely, suggested that he call to ask his father who was quite the mop-topped skate rat in his day for said instructions, he said, “OK.” 

This is how that conversation went down: 

T3: Hi Dad, uh, I want skateboard lessons. Do you think I could have Malachai teach me?

Dad: Skateboard, huh? Cool! I could teach you. 

T3: Yeah. Uh, you could teach me on the days Malachai can’t. 

Dad: I could teach you too, tonight even. I mean I know how to skateboard…

T3: Well, I was thinking on the days that Malachai is at crew, you could teach me. 

Dad: Uh, oh. OK. I guess, sure. But you know, we want to take the training wheels off your bike. So before you do the skateboard you — 

T3: Yeah. Dad: uh, that’s not a skateboard.        

Dad: (laughing) You’re right bud. It’s not. It’s a bike. Can I talk to mom? 

I pick up the phone, take it off speaker and we start laughing about the irony of the week, which of course inspired me to write this post. 

Kids say the darnedest things…

Dad just stepped in, while I was composing this post and he asked me to mention to you all that he scored a goal last night during his “Old Man” soccer team’s game that started at 9:30. They play on turf. The lights are on when they play. This way, they can see the ball. Many men (my husband has the best legs) run around in shorts under the lights on a turf field to kick a ball into a net.  Yay! Actually, he loooooves soccer. He’s coached our kids’ soccer teams (stops when they hit teenagerdom) and he’s so glad he still gets to play with some top-notch men. Even if they are mostly neighbors. 

I think in some ways, Dad feels a little bummed he’s not able to spend more time with the team; he does have to go to his job to do whatever he does and make the bucks that pay for the very computer I’m tapping on and we value his awesomeness.  He’s a terrific father, the most mellow man my mercurial spirit could ever hope to nab, and an absolute peach of a guy. He knows how to play piano but doesn’t play as much as I’d like (naow I saound layhke my mather), he sings lullabies to the children at bedtime, he wakes Thing 1 and fixes breakfast for him before the sun is up, he leaves work to meet at the hospital at the drop of a hat, he loves his parents, he’s got a bunch of sibs, he buys the boys trash cereals because they crave them, he loves and supports me . . . he cooks when it’s his night to make according to the menu (like tonight: chicken pot pie! yum!) and we are so so so SO lucky to have him. So what if his job is boring to the kids, he can’t find a Lego set to save his life and he isn’t considered a first consult for skateboard lessons? He’s our dude.

Of all the team, T3 hears him the most tonight, because before I post, this most serendipitous and providential event was happening just outside my office window: 

God, thank you for that moment. I love it when you scheme with life to remind me of what it’s all about.  Blogging is great an’ all, but well, life is what happens when you’re away from the keyboard huh? 

And after uploading: the rear tire just flattened! That bike’s been through three Things and now the skateboard lessons commence just as his work BlackBerry chimes in its tone we collectively call “Coldplay!” We love you, Dad of Things 3.

thank you.  

7 responses »

  1. Brilliant post! I started out laughing my face off, but by the end I was bawling! Dad of Things 3 sounds like a total gem, a keeper, a wonderful man! What a beautiful tribute to him! Life is too short not to say these things and show appreciation for the little, but powerful ways, our significant others impact our lives. I am HONORED that you thought of being "Hands Free" and you were SO right when you sent me here to come read. I love it! Makes me want to go give my husband a great big hug. Thank you!!!

  2. Dan is a gem among gems. You forgot to mention that he embraces long-lost cousins who have behaved badly with all the love and warmth a guy could give. He is the very definition of a mensch.

  3. Hi Hands Free Mama! Thank you for your comments! I appreciate your stopping by! I hope you hugged your husband. They need to hear they matter. Mine got teary when we read what I wrote. He was so happy. He knew I was writing about him, but he didn't know *what* I was writing about him. Having our son on video was the cat's pajamas for him. Thank you for writing messages that inspire me.

  4. Alli, thanks. I forgot a list of other wonderful qualities about him, but yes, his ability to welcome (back) love with love is so graceful. But his snoring last night… OY! xoxo

  5. Pingback: You Have to Have Something for YourSelf |

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