Monday, April 7, 2008

Long Weekend



















It's funny how the weather changes.

It's funny how other things change too.

My best friend R. has three sons, about the same ages as mine. He's known all of my kids since they were a couple hours old and I've known his as long and even though we live on opposite ends of town, a little distance doesn't change that.

Like any friendship, ours has traditions. We think it's important to pass these along to our sons. So, for many years, we've taken an annual father-son weekend somewhere. A boy had to be at least four years old to get invited and the first trip has been a rite of passage.

Most often it's been a lake cabin, a place we could teach the kids how to spit and swear and set things on fire. Once we went to the Field of Dreams, once to a water park. Every year, though, it's been somewhere, two dads and six boys.

The last few years it's been harder to schedule. The kids are involved in sports and that chews up a lot of the summer. Last year we moved it to spring. My middle son was with me for the last part of my yearly jaunt around the countryside, R. picked up my other two, and all of us met at a lodge not too far from the last stop of my trip.

The weather was cold and rainy but the place had a bar and an arcade. When your parenting style is based on threats and bribery, that's all you really need.

This year we decided to give it another go. My middle son was with me again and before I left I reminded my oldest to help his younger brother pack.

"I'm not going," he said.

"What?"

"I'm not going."

"Yes you are."

"No, I can't."

"This isn't open for discussion," I told him.

"Dad, you can't make me. Please."

"What are you talking about? We already have the reservations. This is the annual trip. You're going."

"Our new tennis coach said we had to be at every practice if we want to make varsity," he said. "I can't miss two days."

Finally the nub of the issue. Not that it made me any happier, with my kid or his coach.

"That's stupid," I said. "It's spring break. Lots of kids will miss practice."

The boy glared at me and stormed upstairs. His brothers took one look at my expression and scattered. A fairly typical evening around our house.

I was angrier than usual, though, and that's saying something for a person inclined to volcanic rage. So angry I left. Drove down to the park and stared at the lake for an hour.

When I returned home I found my oldest downstairs.

"How important is this to you?" I asked him.

"Extremely," he said.

"Alright," I said.

"Really?"

"Yes. Your grades are good, you've been helping out at home, and this means a lot to you. You can stay home."

And he did. This year it was two dads and five boys. We had fun, looked for rocks on the beach when it was nice, hung out in the bar and arcade when it wasn't, did the kind of things we do every year. It was plenty noisy. Still, I missed the oldest one.

The younger two boys and I got home last night. After dinner, when things settled down, the oldest gave his mother a copy of his tennis schedule.

"What's the deal?" I asked. "Did you make the varsity squad?"

He grinned. "Yep."

"Good man," I told him.

Which is what he is.

7 comments:

Jennifer said...

You're a good man too, Snag.

Kathleen said...

Nice one, Father Snag.

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Father-son trip?

Sounds like the patriarchy to me!

fish said...

Yet another blow to Pinko's (poorly defined) self-esteem.

blue girl said...

Yes, you are a good man, Snag.

And, um....When your parenting style is based on threats and bribery...

You mean, there's another kind?

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Could you let Ms. Snag know AG will go on a trip with her.

Jennifer said...

Speaking of trips, Snag, you have to let me know about this summer.