11/17/2013

Today was forever

One of my children is reading to the other, but I'll likely have to go in and finish the job. 

We've had a great two days together, the three of us. Mostly they've played together while I've watched, supervised, shepherded, kept away from sharp objects. Since having brunch with some friends the other day, I've not had a sustained conversation with another adult. 

And that's okay. Being a single dad for me means that I am living these years of my life with two of the three most important people in my life. It can be absolutely exhausting, especially when they begin to go to war with each other. Some times it can be so emotionally draining to be in the middle of their spats, and I try to stay out of the fray.

Thankfully today there was little need to do that. Today was about as perfect as you can get, given that we only left the house once and that my living room was transformed into an ocean fortress, complete with inflatable dolphin. They played for at least five or six hours together, and it was an honor to eavesdrop on their play time.

It was also an honor to provide the music. All day I played record after record while I sorted out my growing collection. I'm not the most organized person in the world, so all of the records have just been stacking up in front of the stereo. Today I tackled as much as I could, and began to put away the ones I'm not likely listen to.

The music ranged from the Tom Tom Club to Aerosmith, by way of an old K-Tel novelty record and some Matthew and the Mandarins. For a while, we watched the Eagles destroy Washington's football team, but sports didn't dominate the day at all.

Imaginative play was the name of the day, and I felt happy to be providing a space where my two American children could spend some of their childhood with me. Watching them reminded me of how happy my own was, despite not being close to my brother or sister. I was too young, and now I fear we're too old to really ever be close. 

I'm fairly certain today was the first time my son had heard Led Zeppelin's The Immigrant Song, and within a minute or so, he was singing along to it. While we were listening to a portion of the Mikado, he heard a similar melody that corresponds to a different song and he began singing that instead. 

My daughter did not retreat into a book today, and instead sought out opportunities to read to her brother. She read the Jedi Academy book I bought at the Sock Hop the other night. At bedtime, she read him three books, and now she's reading to herself because he's going to sleep. In a few minutes, I'll return to parenting and will turn off her light.

In the morning, I'll say goodbye to them for a few days. Sure, there will be the usual racing to get them out the door and that won't exactly be stress-free. I have figured out that my children have an obligation to make sure that my life has unexpected surprises that must be solved. They are the random element in my life, constantly providing me with little challenges and puzzles. 

The goal is to have weekends like this, where we all can nest and grow and prepare for other days. They are growing up so fast. My daughter decided her skirt should be a shirt today, and she pulled off the look somehow. She played with my son all weekend, and they built silly memories I'm sure they will remember well into their life.

And the best part of the weekend?

A rare phone call from my English son who told me he's getting an iPod Touch and will be able to FaceTime me whenever he wants. 

These days of resting and playing are so valuable. They don't happen all the time, but are so much more common when the leaves fall. I'm storing up these memories for me, for those times they won't be here. Isn't that human experience is about, be it raw experience or distilled narrative? 

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