Fatherly confessions

Well, it didn’t take long.  When I launched the site, I vowed to myself to post at least every three days – fiction when I was inspired, and whatever captured my fancy when I wasn’t or when working on a longer piece.   Today is the thirty day anniversary of my site’s launch.  Already, eleven suns have set since my last post.  I’ve broken my promise in record fashion.

I have a good excuse.  My son, Neil, who turns eight this fall, was in town for his annual summer trip to Cleveland.  I confess to a certain apprehension every time he visits.  You see, I’m a part-time parent.  Neil comes to town twice each year.  The rest of the time, he lives in Newport, Rhode Island.

I’m not plugged into the parenting world.  I’m always terrified he’ll be bored.  He gets bored easily.  He’ll tell you so if you ask him.  When we watch a movie, any movie, he asks to skip the talking part and get right to the action.  When I ask what he does for fun at home, he’s not much help.  Mostly, he says, he’s bored.  I know that’s not true, but a small part of me breathes a sigh of relief, glad that it’s not all on me.

A month or so before he arrives, I start worrying how I’ll keep him busy.  Two years ago, I sent him to a nearby camp from 9 AM until 3 PM.  I thought he’d love having other kids to play with for a few hours each day.  I was wrong.  Neil didn’t care for camp.  Last year, I filled out a day planner well in advance (not one of my strong suits), careful to fill each morning, afternoon and evening.  When he’s here, I want him to have great adventures.  I want him to spend time with his Cleveland family.  I want him to take fond memories back to Newport.  I want to hear him giggle.

This year, I took a minimalist approach.  We had “Cousin’s Night Out” planned for Sunday evening.  It was my turn to year to host this annual event and I purposely scheduled it when Neil was in town.  I knew we’d play DnD on Thursday.  The first thing Neil did after entering my house was race to the sideboard in my dining room to search for his dice and the figure of Sorzon the Great, his wizard.  He was itching for Sorzon to cut loose on an unsuspecting minion.   Other than that and a Monday night cookout, I had no concrete plans for the coming week.

I took Neil to Hopkins airport yesterday.  Maryann (a Clevelander, family friend and frequent visitor to Newport) escorted him home.  Neil and I were busy every day, and they were long days.  By the time I kissed him good night after reading a story or two, it was always well past his bedtime in Newport (did you know that the sun sets 41 minutes earlier in Newport than here?).   What did we do?  Well, you know … stuff.  We went to the grocery store, we got the oil changed, we picked vegetables from a friend’s garden, we visited family often, we watched a couple of movies (PG-13, which his best friend back home isn’t allowed to watch!) and played a few video games.  We went to Chipotle.  Twice.  We giggled a lot, especially about monkeys.

For Neil’s next visit over Thanksgiving, I think, maybe, I might be slightly less nervous, a little less apprehensive.  It’s finally dawning on me that Neil doesn’t really care what we do so long as we do it together.  He’d be happy spending the whole day in PJs building a massive Lego tower and hunting for Rider, my alleged 2nd cat, in the basement.

I loved every moment with Neil.  Among my favorite ones were those spent at Phoenix Coffee where I do much of my writing.  Every morning, we’d spend an hour working on our story, Crampus and his Invincible Army of Goblins.  I hope you smile when reading it half as much as we did writing it.

Till the next post, chris

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