My all-time favorite story by Adam Gopnik is entitled, "Bumping into Mr. Ravioli." In short, it's about his young daughter and her imaginary friend, the one who's always too busy to play with her. She talks with him on her little phone and he's always hurrying off to do this or to do that, always on the run. Mr. Gopnik writes beautifully about this, about his concerns as a parent and what it says about our busy society.
The kids are watching and they are taking it all in.
Recently, I had a similar moment with my four-year-old son. Joshua was at the end of a bad day. He hadn't eaten a bite of his dinner, he had gotten in trouble for his refusal, and now he was lying in bed while we chatted about the importance of eating the food that his parents make and serve. I lectured the usual lines about how hard his mom worked to give him good food, how it was rude of him not to even try it, and how his body needed those foods to get bigger and stronger...like his big brother.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he sadly shared a concern of his. "When I'm big, I won't be able to play with my toys," he whimpered. I heard him and replied that while some adults don't play with their toys anymore, that didn't mean that he wouldn't be able to when he was a grownup. "Lots of big people still play with their toys," I assured my son.
"But I might be too busy to play with them," he replied. "Maybe I'll be a daddy and I'll always be working and I'll never have time to play."
Yikes! I get it. What do you say to that? We don't get a lot of time together but I do the best I can with the time we get. I've always assumed he missed me somewhat, but I never figured that he thought it out to that extension. Four-year-olds are apparently more profound than previously imagined. My life as a family man is far from perfect, but I've always taken consolation in two things: Working second shift isn't the greatest but a job's a job and I'm lucky to have one, and because it's a second shift job it makes things easier on us when a kid has to stay home from school allowing for neither parent to lose a whole day's pay.
My beautiful wife stays exhausted, teaching schoolkids by day and taking care of our kids by night. Add to that a phase where our kids refuse to eat anything but their respective favorite dishes (spaghetti for her and tacos for him), and she's just about done in. Either I need a job which gives me more time at home with my kids, or at least my wife needs to make some friends here in town who will either babysit or give her company while she's at home and I'm clocked in elsewhere.
Anyway, I just wish I could turn this stuff into an award-winning piece like Adam Gopnik's "Bumping into Mr. Ravioli." Alas, I'm just me, a guy who might be more of a typer than writer. I hope you like what I type. If nothing else, it feels good to share here with my family, friends, and fellow bloggers.
Allow me to close by recommending one of the best blog posts by a dad that I've read today. It's by Dad Gone Mad and is titled "Sorry About This, Honey."