The boys are in camp, at their school, every morning this week; a drama camp, together. They love it. Yesterday, as they got in the car to come home Abbott said, 'I can't wait until Tuesday. I can't wait to come back to camp!' Our drama teacher, she is something special. What this also means is that when we get home, they are both a little tired, and eager for playtime, and doing their own thing. And as a result I've had some productive time, serendipitously. This afternoon I planted a bunch of flowers in pots to brighten our decks.
This morning, I went to West Seattle to get several things framed at Northwest Art & Frame. For those of you in the area who don't know about this business, I can't say enough good things about it! The store carries lots of ready-made frames to choose from in every imaginable size, and offers supplies and work space for doing every part of the framing process yourself, with standby assistance from store staff. It's worth it to me to drive across town whenever I want something framed.
I was dragging a bit, so I went across the street to Cupcake Royale for a coffee (no cupcake today, alas). We used to live near their original coffeeshop/bakery and, when Cal was a baby, I walked there at least once a day (they are strategically located next to the neighborhood park). I found the frosting on a cupcake packs as much of an energy punch as any coffee beverage I might order; a huge help in those days with a newborn and intermittent sleep. Their business seems to be thriving, now with multiple locations, including this one I visited today in West Seattle.
I had a friend in college who used to say that she wasn't going to have children until she was sure she would be able to love them unconditionally. Love them as they were, whether they were fairly similar to her in terms of things like disposition and beliefs, or if they turned out to be quite different - maybe republican, or gay, or disabled - any of the things she was not. At that time in my life, in my late teens/early twenties, I was a bit puzzled by her train of thought and her regular mention of this. Who thinks about that kind of thing a decade or so before it's likely to happen? Looking back, I understand that her own severely dysfunctional upbringing was probably at the root of her concern.
'It's been years since I triggered my father's temper. I learned my way around it long ago. I do not bring up politics, history, literature, lawyers - especially Jewish lawyers - or any other subject that can be linked, however loosely, to my mother. I do not tease, and I receive teasing with a smile; I keep my thoughts and opinions to a bare minimum. I ask questions. I make myself useful. I do not discuss my interests, my relationships, or my goals. He and Catherine find me dull company, and tease me for that as well, but it is a small price to pay for peace.' (Father of the Rain by Lily King, p. 154.)
All day I've been haunted by this thread in the book. I've spent more time in my life than I would like to be able to say I have, living under a much paler shadow of various kinds of intolerances. This book has made me remember what it was like to live, kind of, like that. I am compelled, as ever, to be conscious of living with an open heart and an open mind, to the best of my ability. May we all be.
We're finding a rhythm for being home, together; re-negotiating our expectations of each other, our wants and needs and hopes. I don't have an answer for it all right now. As I sat eating lunch in a cafe with Cal, waiting to pick up Abbott from a playdate, I felt an unwinding. There was something about the sound of the fan, the bit of sweat slowly trickling down my back that settled me a bit more firmly into summer.
As I write this, the boys are outside with a neighbor. I hear them through the window, plotting about what they might be able to sell. Lemonade? Snow cones? Many ideas are tossed around. 'We're definitely not going to sell water, because people already have that.'
We have biked and biked and biked, and we've been falling into bed tired and sleeping heavy, sun-and-exercise drugged sleeps. Exactly as I remember doing at their ages.
I came downstairs this morning to find Abbott trying desperately to cut up some ribs for Cal to eat, with a butter knife. Ribs were provided by a generous neighbor, last night, who knows Cal's love of all things carnivorous.
Before 8:00am, Cal suffered two bicycle crashes while riding in circles in front of the house (he's fine, but his knees are a frightful sight). As I write this it's just 9:00am and there have already been several questions about when, when we're going to go on that bike ride we talked about at breakfast.
PS - I started using Instagram yesterday, an iphone app that is a nice way to share casual snapshots with fun filters. My profile is here, if you'd like to see. I love this post on the subject. Alexi told me, crazily, the company has only four employees. Apparently they have lots of start-up money, and are trying to figure out how to make it profitable.
The fathers I know, it is easy to imagine them as they might have been in a younger lifetime. As high school peers, childhood playmates. I suspect this is because, oftentimes, I see them in a vulnerable space brought about by their parenthood. Exposed. Out of love, sometimes frustration, or pride. Raw openness. And at those times I feel a great, overflowing affection toward these men, whose fathering enriches the lives of my family and my community. I watch them struggle with patience, lead by example, teach, parent with fortitude. I’m moved by the tenderness I see expressed by these men – cracks in their otherwise seamless exteriors of professionalism or success or just adulthood.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you energetic, loving, inspiring, hardworking fathers out there. You are the most amazing men I know. Thank you for everything you’ve done and yet will do to better all of our lives.