Every summer means excitement for kids and a degree of dismay for parents: at least the honest parents. It means the kids get to play, sleep in, bother dad and mom, and otherwise have a ball. Dad and mom may have less commuting to do but they also get a quieter house each a.m. Dad and mom also have to be the family recreational directors. For many families, it also means the dreaded, “Family Vacation.” But, summer is over and this dad would like to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly he experienced!
Without a doubt, I enjoy the quiet mornings that summer brings our house. Since my boys are both teens, their idea of “sleeping in” means getting up around lunchtime. For that matter, their idea of when to go to bed may mean dawn on a given evening. My sleep schedule remains the same, year-round: little, interrupted (bathroom visits), and snoring. I won’t say who does the latter.
But, summer mornings are truly glorious. The quiet, the still, the peace, the time to concentrate, reading the paper uninterrupted, and the list goes on and on. Then, the boys wake and my older son sleepily enters my office, looks at my calendar and asks, “What are we doing today?” My younger one mumbles something that sounds like “Fine” when he arises and I ask how he is. My glorious quiet time is over.
This summer also had a big event that caused a degree of worry for me. My older son visited his biological mother for the first time in several years. His younger brother wasn’t ready to visit her yet and there was a degree of anxiety that permeated the house around this event. As with most anxiety, the anticipation usually exceeds the reality and Will came and went on this visit without much incident. In fact, so little “incident” that I was lulled to think he had made peace with this complicated event in his life. I know better, but for now, I want to believe he’s had some closure or, at least, is on the road to better understanding things with his mother.
My anxiety around Will’s visit with his mother extended to my younger son, David, who at first was feeling left out. His anxiety eased upon his brother’s return as David asked a couple of questions and seemed satisfied with the minimal feedback he got in return. He dropped the issue and it hasn’t come up since. My job remains to be conscious of their complex feelings around their mother but not to insert my own fears and worries into their minds. Thankfully, my wife is there to remind me of this course of action. Sometimes, it’s a parent’s job to not hover or intrude too much.
I am writing this column on the eve of our “Family Vacation” as we’re going to visit my in-laws for 10 days. In fact, I’m proofing this column in the airport after the joyful experience of going through security. That’s why I often say that I love travel except for the “travel” part.
In the interest of family harmony, I thought it best to finish this column before the trip to prevent any slip of the finger, on my keyboard, and cause the least bit of marital strife. I love my in-laws and my wife’s extended family very much – we’ll leave it at that!
Without a doubt, the highlight of my summer was the trip to New York I took with David, my 14-year-old. I was invited to speak at the 140conf NY, a Twitter/Social Media conference that is considered pretty important in those circles. My talk was about the bigotry and double standard that many dads experience, especially in entertainment and media. The conference and the speech went beautifully and I met IRL (in real life) many of the wonderful people I’d gotten to know virtually through Twitter and Facebook.
But, showing my son New York for the first time was the unequivocal highlight of the trip. In just a few days, we did it all! He fell in love with Broadway and we ended up going to four shows, including “Spiderman,” where we were fortunate to get front-row seats. After that show, David exclaimed it the single best entertainment show of any kind he’d ever seen.
We did New York – top to bottom. Of course, we went to Ground Zero. That was powerful in ways I didn’t imagine. And, to my son’s credit, he was “there” in body and spirit. We also went to The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Macy’s, Chinatown, Times Square, FAO Schwartz, The Harry Potter Exhibit, Central Park, the Apple Store, The Plaza Hotel, and food, glorious food! We ate every kind of food, from the great New York pizzas to Peking duck in Chinatown.
David was In Love! No amount of money could replace the feeling I got from seeing the joy on his face. He had a constant smile on his face. Sharing those kind of moments with my boys has continually been one of the highlights of my life and parenthood.
But, all good things come to an end. While we’re suffering through an ongoing 100-degree heat wave, I’ve got all those ridiculous school forms to fill out – each year – for my son’s respective school registrations. Then, the lines and check writing of actual registration. Can’t wait. Yes, summer is over!
Enjoy our “A Dad’s Point-of-View” Comic Strip – “School, Glorious School.”
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