The good in them

I didn’t mean to be gone this long; the hours piled up into days and then weeks, and once again I was a negligent blogger. Sometimes I think there should be a social services hotline for blogs, to have them removed from the homes of people like me. I’m talking about people who let our blogs lie for weeks at a time, who change their identities whenever the mood strikes us, who fail to brand them and update them and make them the very essence of niche, which is what good blog-parents do, according to the standards of professional marketing type people.

Figuring out what this blog is supposed to be is always an exercise, for me, in figuring out who I am supposed to be. It seems lately I’ve mostly been learning who I am not, and so maybe it’s fitting that there have been few words here. I have been writing, but this has become for me mainly a space where I write about being a father, and I haven’t been a very good one lately. Maybe that’s what people want to hear about. Maybe I’ll tell you more about that, sometime.

But for now I want to tell you about these babies of mine. Caleb and Eli have internetty-type devices now, though I’ve disabled the internet so creepers can’t find them. They’ve both asked me why I worry so much about bad guys, and I’ve told them that if anyone ever hurt them I would kill him, with pain, and then I’d probably end up in jail.

They can’t decide if I’m joking. I most decidedly am not.

But they do have their apps and such, and one of these is a Scrabble kind of game, and so we play Scrabble, and we send each other little messages. They are clever little cusses. “Where’d you come up with that word?” I asked Caleb after he played a particularly good one.

“The brains, Dad.”

I realized that persistent, methodical, stoic little Eli doesn’t use the brains so much as brute force; if he can’t spot a word he randomly substitutes combinations of letters in different nooks and crannies until he comes up with something. That’s why I get words like “dux” and “hod” from my nine year-old. This is the boy who taught himself to ride his bike at age four, wobbling down the driveway, falling, getting up with bleeding knees, getting back on to wobble some more. Relentless little boy.

The three oldest have rip sticks now, which are like skateboards except that you’re supposed to wiggle your body to make them go. Isaac usually forgets to wear his helmet, I know this from the scrapes on his face. He’s also about to lose three front teeth, which I know because he’s done the math on what the Tooth Fairy is going to owe him. He looks like a hockey player, only his disposition is far sweeter.

They made me take them to a skateboard park, one of those places with ramps and platforms and bars that seem designed for the sole purpose of depriving me of grandchildren. The older boys rip-sticked and Isaiah careened around on a tricycle. Together they ran off the surly teenagers. I lay in the sun and read Dostoevsky and tried not to think about the impending injuries, none of which were as bad as I imagined they would be, which is something I wish were always true.

Isaiah has a new song. When I strip him down to change his clothes or give him a bath, he sings, “I’m a naked boy, huh! I’m a naked boy, huh!” He has a little dance that goes with it. Friday night we came home late, so he was asleep when I carried him to his bedroom. I lay him on his bed, and changed him into his pajamas. In mid-change, he whispered, eyes still closed, “I’m a naked boy, huh. I’m a naked boy.”

They are sweet and they are good and mostly I pray I don’t mess that up. I used to have grand plans about teaching them how to use chain saws and shotguns, about showing them how to think and speak and be good men who do good and important things. More and more I hope on being able to protect what is already good in them, and hope, further, that some of it rubs off on me.


  1. Spud

    If it’s a choice between spending more time with the boys or posting at SitG, I’d go with the former (obviously). Hopefully Isaiah doesn’t do his nekkid-boy song a few years from now in a locker room. Hmmm, maybe he will!

    My boys are in the “AirSoft Gun” phase, and so far they’re using their own money. They get a quart tub of ammo (5000 pellets?) but go through it in about two days. The wife is worried about all the plastic in the yard/lawn, but I tell her it will help to aerate the ground. Mm-hmm, yeah. My two have skateboards but have never been overly keen on them.

  2. Gray

    Isn’t it all just so grand? It is the ordinary everyday stuff that makes me think that when we are old we will look back and say that this was the best of times.

  3. Pingback: Reflections On Fatherhood | Sinting Link

  4. Kate, the mom from Chicago

    Found you through the Dish. Your last paragraph fills me with love and wistfulness. We raised Mick and Maddie – one of each and off on their own now. You hit the nail on the head. The innocence, wonder, goodness, and buoyant hope of children is inspiring and humbling. As an empty nester, I miss it daily.

    Thank you!

  5. Tibby

    That was lovely, thanks. It says all I want to impart to my boys, now grown and married. I hope they come and read.

  6. Rock Throwing Peasant

    I’m facing the same issue. My younger son sings Christmas carols all year long (sometimes, varying to match a holiday, like Halloween). He still carries blankets and has an ENORMOUS stuffed dog collection. He’s eight years old. Now, he’s played tackle football, baseball, is in his second year of scouts, and is really well liked by classmates.

    I’ve taken him shooting (.22 long rifle and pellet gun) and he’s helped clean a pheasant I shot.

    Part of me wants him to ditch the blankets and dogs. Then, I think that I should preserve them or, at least, not rush them out of his life. I don’t want him to be soft and thrown into a hard world, but I really don’t want him to lose his sense of childishness.

    No advice or insight, I’m afraid. Just a mutual understanding.

  7. java mama

    I love how open and authentic you are…your last paragraph was heartfelt and what so many of us feel as we raise our children. I found your blog through a friend on FB and will be visiting often! I think you need to add a little verse from “dad” when your son sings his naked dance song- love it!

  8. --

    Congratulations on your new professional job, Tony. Hope this means you will have less travel and more of the time you crave for “Dad” — the job of your heart. Blessings in your work, and Easter grace to your family.

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