undeaddad

explorations of mindful fatherhood


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Back from the Dead (and Everything’s Changed)

paranorman_tv4_1080_20120802193814I’d like to see a zombie movie in which the living dead are cognizant of the world around them, and are stunned by just how much the world they’ve woken to has changed.  ParaNorman took that spin on things when its zombie Puritans run screaming from Main Street at the sight of TVs and neon lights.  I’d imagine these culture-shocked zombies might be so taken aback by what they see, they lose their appetites.  The best analogy I can conjure up is returning to your favorite restaurant after a long vacation, only to realize that they’ve changed the decor and the waitstaff so much that you’re too distracted to eat.

That’s what the last month of summer felt like to me.  So much was changing in a short span of time, that I was too distracted to write it down.  I’d like to say I took a planned break from blogging so that I could jump back into the fray in September, recharged.  But this wasn’t the case.  In fact, I even had several ideas for posts swarm inside my brain-case now and again, but none of them got me to sit down in front of the computer and tap them out.  In fact, one blog idea that kept returning to me time and again was my reaction to watching my son cast a fishing rod this summer.  I think that image floored me.  Now, in retrospect, I can see that the thought of him being such a big kid, and entering the second grade, swept my writing legs out from under me. Here’s what happened.

My wife’s family was spending a couple of weeks in Cape Cod, and were gracious enough to invite us to stay with them for part of that time. Our work schedules are a little crazy, so we went up one weekend, and my wife and I came back home mid-week to go back to work, leaving our son with his cousins, aunt, uncle, and grandparents.  I was away from everyone the longest, and when I returned to the Cape that Friday, my son raved about being taught by his grandfather how to fish.  He was dying to show me, and we all headed down to the water that day.  Now, these weren’t the piddly little poles that I grew up fishing with in the Midwest, but the big sea-faring poles, with the exposed reel that you have to manipulate with your fingers when you cast.  Definitely not child’s play.  After being baited up, my son held the base of the pole between his legs, set up the reel, pulled the line taught with his finger, hauled back, and released a perfect cast out into the water.

It doesn’t sound like much.  Just a 7 year-old casting a fishing pole.  But I was floored.  He executed the maneuver with grace and ease, and without a single reminder or tip from an adult.  I kept cheering loudly (like a bad fisherman) for him to “Do it again! Do it again!”  I couldn’t believe that this kid, who just a few years ago was learning to walk, was now handling his own on a dock with a seven foot long fishing pole.

That’s the image that stopped me cold.  The image that prevented me from writing a single word.  Perhaps not the image itself, but what it signified.  My son had grown.  Grown quicker than I expected, and now we were about to head into another year of work and school.  Not only had he grown, but he was old enough to be away from his parents, in another state, on vacation.  He was getting so big.

Another thing that stopped me in my tracks was that he was now learning things, out there in the world, that had nothing to do with his parents.  That sounds weird, as though I expect everything he knows to be taught by us, which certainly isn’t the case.  Of course he has to learn things out there in the world beyond us.  I think it was the fact that most everything he’s learned, from academics, to sports, to arts, were all facilitated by his mom or me.  We helped him get to school or find a class or camp.  In the case of fishing, he had been on his own in the world, decided he wanted to learn to fish, convinced his grandfather to teach him, and practiced on his own.  What the hell!  He’s no baby anymore.

And so I’m back to writing it all down, twisted up inside by the mixture of pride and anguish that comes with parenthood.  I hope to stay put and keep up my appetite for writing, in spite of (or maybe because of) how much my world is changing.