Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dad's day off...

Jen is on spring break this week. So as a bonus, I got a "day off." It's a Sunday, and after she got back from yoga, I took off. I was officially free for the day. Of course, it was quite chilly. But a I grabbed a backpack, my iPod, newspapers, books, and trekked on down to the T. I headed into the city, just wandering a bit, unencumbered. If that sounds less than exciting, let me assure you, it wasn't. Except for attending a journalism conference back in November, I hadn't really just experienced the city by myself very much. So this was liberating, wandering around Boston Commons, Copley Square, Quincy Market.

Near Boston Commons, I ducked into a movie theater, simply because I could. I saw "The Host," an excellent South Korean monster movie. Outstanding, really. After that, I toured some more, making my way to the North End, the Italian district. I stopped for an espresso, and then picked up some canolis to take home. I stopped in the old North Church (where Paul Revere got the infamous signal...)

But the funny thing was, all this alone time gave me time to think about how my time with the kids is coming to an end. As dinnertime neared, I knew I had permission to stay out as late as I wanted. But I decided to head home, because I missed the critters and Jen, of course. It was a surprise to me. Okay, maybe I'm just a masochist. But I know I'm going to miss spending all this time with them when we're back in Oakland. And so I got back for dinner and bedtime, glad to see them, and glad for day off.

Dan Zanes...

We had a fabulous time at our first Dan Zanes concert today. We went with a big group of folks, 20 including us. Somehow, I had gotten it into my head to turn this into a big production. Given the general craziness of our lives, I probably should have just bought us a few tickets and been done with it.

Still, I had originally thought that it would make a good outing for the kids in Liam's preschool. But it sort of morphed into something else. There was us, and two other Blue Room Families. Then there was a friend from Coop, our friends Anita and George, Bay Area transplants, Debbie, another SF refugee. In all, a diverse group, and lots of fun.

Our seats weren't stellar, but the kids were still into it. Here's a bad video clip, via my camera:


Father and sons...

By coincidence, I just read two consecutive books exploring relationships between father and sons.

The first was "Lay of the Land," by Richard Ford. This is the latest in Ford's epic "Frank Bascombe" trilogy. While the first two are among my favorite books, you don't need to have read them to appreciate this one. In any case, in this latest installment, our hero is 57, and gearing up to host a Thanksgiving weekend that will include a visit from his son, who is in his late 20s. While his son makes a decent living writing for a greeting card company in Kansas City, Frank, who lives on the Jersey shore, can't escape his disappointment over the way his son has turned out. It's not that the son is a failure, in any measurable way. Rather, for Bascombe, it's the small things, like his son's mullet, or that he lives in in the Midwest (gasp!), or that his worldview is considerably different. Despite good intentions, both father and son can't seem to connect, or understand each other. In the previous book, the son was a teenager with growing troubles in school and life which Frank tried -- and failed -- to repair.

The second book was "Gilead," by Marilynne Robinson. This was our latest book club pick. It's a slim, slow read. The father in this case is an Iowa pastor who got married and had a son in his late 60s. It's now the 1950s, and having just found out he doesn't have long to live, the father is writing a long letter to his young son, telling him all the things he will never have a chance to say when the boy is old enough to understand them. It's a subtle book that sneaks up you at the end.

I really enjoyed both, on their own terms. Of course, it's hard not to read them and not have the vague anxiety that all parents probably have at one point or another about how their kids will turn out, and how much you can even influence that. Will Liam be able to make friends? Will Kalian mellow out? Will Liam be a trenchcoat wearing, skateboarding, smoking-behind-the-school kid? Will Kalian continue along the path to becoming a girlie girl?

I guess the real question is this: Will I be able accept them for what they become, and not measure them against some ideal I had in mind for them? I hope so.

The Wisdom of Liam

The other day, I got a bit frustrated with Liam for spilling something. Frankly, I can't even remember exactly what it was. But I let loose with the "F-word" and immediately regretted it.

Liam then stuck his hands in pants and got a sad look on his face.

"Liam, are you sticking your hands in your pants because you're upset with me?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. And then: "Daddy, don't say f--k. Next time, just say, 'Liam, please don't do that.' Okay?"

Yes, buddy. Lesson learned.