“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. I think Mick Jagger said that…….or maybe Jesus. Regardless of who’s mouth it slipped out of, the truth stands. Your mom has taken the two of you back to South Dakota to prep for Uncle Red’s wedding a week in advance of my flight. Sure, I’ve been living it pretty large, Dad-style. I stay up until midnight – sometimes midnight-thirty if I’m feeling rambunctious. I eat red meat and prance around the house in tube socks and underwear. Last night I even went to Denny’s and had some ice cream…..alone. But is it great? Is it wonderful? Coming home from work and the only person that gives a hoot about my day is Clementine? The dog who barks at her own farts?
Rory and Quinn : 17 months
Honestly, it’s a little lonely.
As I sat up at the bar at Denny’s (again, alone), an older man came in with his son. The dad looked like he was maybe mid to late forties but it was one of those HAGGARD mid to late forties. The kind of tiredness that only comes from a healthy diet of substance abuse and TV dinners. The kid was probably around eleven….or at least what I imagine an eleven year old would look like. Maybe he was a runty 13 year old. Maybe his dad feeding him TV dinners his entire life made him scrawny.
So I sat there and I was eating my ice cream and I was thinking about you two – 1,500 miles away, sleeping in an enclosed porch. I imagine the air is hot and sticky; South Dakota evenings in late June are like that. Side note – those are my absolute favorite evenings. I’ll take the sheen of thick sweat and the buzz of mosquitos and cicadas over a crisp spring evening any day of the year.
So you’re sleeping in a porch in South Dakota and I’m eating ice cream in a Denny’s in the ghetto and this dad and his kid are sitting next to me and I’m sort of watching them out of the corner of my eye. They’re also sitting at the bar so it’s pretty easy – I can hear most of what they’re saying. The kid orders some ice cream – maybe because he saw me eating mine – and his dad orders something undefined. Probably meatloaf. Anyway, I keep hearing the kid ask his dad things; various questions. Why do ____? Did you know _____? Yesterday I was ______ and then _____. And the dad just sort of gave these very throw away responses while he watched the television that Denny’s always has playing.
Another side note. I hate televisions in restaurants. I will purposefully seat myself so that my back is to them. I hate it when I’m trying to have a conversation with my family and I can just feel my eyes drifting up to that stupid box. It’s all those flashing lights and bright colors. Something that I have ZERO interest in can be playing – let’s say baseball; The Sizzler is usually playing baseball – and I’ll STILL end up watching it! Hate it, hate it, hate it. Anyway…
This dad is just watching the television while his son is talking to him and saying, “Uh-huh”. “No kidding”. “Sure-sure. You want some more ice cream? Yeah…yeah….”
Man, I never want to be that guy. I never want to let those quiet opportunities slip me by. Those moments that I have alone with each of you, whether it’s at our house, or in our car, or at a Denny’s. Every one of your thoughts, your stories and your questions are important to me. If I ever brush one of your questions or statements off, I give the both of you FULL PERMISSION to grab me by the jaw, twist my face to yours and say, “Don’t be That Guy”.
My flight comes in late tomorrow night in Sioux Falls. You’ll most likely be asleep but I might wake you up.
A quick summation of this month; first off, we have more words!! You’re both saying, “Rory”…..”Wo-wee”. Quinn said it first and then Rory a couple weeks later. You can both answer, “Moo” and “woof-woof” when asked what sound a cow and puppy make, respectively. Quinn, you can also answer what noise a sheep makes with “Baa”.
Rory, you’ve started pushing chairs around and climbing on them. A couple days ago one finally tipped over on you. Well, we knew that was going to happen. At least you didn’t break. You also have this toy that is…..it’s like a pole and it has these discs that have holes in the center. The whole point is to stack the discs ON the pole. I mean, explaining it like that, it sounds like a pretty boring game BUT YOU STARTED DOING IT AND IT WAS SO EXCITING WHEN YOU FIGURED IT OUT!!! Now you love to play it.
Quinn, you’ve taken quite a fascination with the tricycle. You haven’t quite got the pedals figured out yet but your tippy toes can just barely reach the floor and you’re starting to push yourself around on it. Grandma also came to visit recently and brought you a little doll. You’ll run and find it and say, “Bay-bee”. It’s very precious. You’ll hold her to your chest and squeeze, giving her an enormous hug…..then you’ll try to pick her eyes out, which, honestly, is a little concerning.
The four of us went camping for Father’s Day and it was the best one yet!! The campsite was TOTALLY booked all weekend so we decided to do a Sunday / Monday overnight with plans to wake up at 4:30 in the morning, pack up and get me to work by a normal time. Totally crazy but it worked, even though your mom and I were totally beat the following day.
Honestly, it wasn’t really the camping that took it out of us. It was the period of time between about 11pm-2:30am where Quinn refused to sleep. She didn’t cry. She didn’t whine. She just kept crawling around inside the tent, poking things, examining things, laughing and causing general havoc. Plus, Rory had this weird hacking cough. Rory, you’d fall asleep on our chests and then we’d wake up to you just heaving phlegm into your mouth….only to swallow it again. Yum.
Once we finally got to sleep though, it was very pleasant. Your mom and I laid next to one another on the giant air mattress that we’d brought. Rory slept on Jade’s chest. I curled up on the edge so you wouldn’t fall off the mattress / out of the zipper / tent. And Quinn slept at the bottom of the bed across our feet like a little puppy.
Excited to see you both tomorrow. Remember, even if I don’t wake you up, I WILL be sneaking into your room to take advantage of one of those quiet moments. I love you.