My wife asked me last week if I would take off this past Wednesday night for a… “NO.” I cut her off.
I am so obsessed with Russell House right now that I couldn’t fathom taking a night off. Honestly, lately I don’t sleep much, I’ve lost 30 pounds since Easter, and I run 3 miles every morning before a 15 hour day. My mind and body just won’t stop. Of course I couldn’t take that night off. Two of our reviews are just out, one glowing, one not as much (but still flattering), and while both are fair and accurate (another topic), they still occupy my mind and fuel my drive even further. But it turned out that the night she wanted me for was our twins’ 1st grade Open House. Open House is the final night of the year when parents can see all that the children have learned and accomplished. I realized that I hadn’t been to their school once the entire year and here it was ending in less than two weeks I was also struck with the fact that I hadn’t been to a baseball game, or a horseback riding lesson… I started to reconsider. I decided to go.
I pulled into the school at 6:30, with not a minute to spare. It was all very heavy to me, even though it shouldn’t have been. I thought of my own father. We have had some deep conversations of late. My dad worked so much and he was gone Monday through Friday. I remember a couple of isolated instances of us spending time together, not tons of memories. I used to be so angry with him. I carried that for many years, but I don’t anymore. I realize that I’m now wearing his shoes, and that I have been walking in them for a long time.
Into the classroom I walked.
My kids are in a French immersion school in our school district, a very cool program. I started with my son. I was just so overwhelmed. He read me a story in French that he had written himself. He showed me a robot that he had made; stunning I thought for his level. I was blown away as the teacher only conversed with the children in French, and they too in turn. There was a whole world there I hadn’t gotten to see – their friends, relationships, and even their personalities in a different setting. We played a math game and looked at calendars all in French. A thought raced across my mind of the review quote that my pasta was dry and tasteless. I chuckled to myself. We sometimes lose sight of what’s important in life.
My wife and I traded off the kids and I ventured to my daughter’s class. It was more of the same. I was struck by the utter genuine quality and intensity of their smiles and their enthusiasm. I was getting emotional as I looked around the classroom. And I realized that I was jealous of all the other dads. It all looked so routine for them. For me it felt like a trip to Disneyland, and it was kind of sad really. I wandered over to the teachers who asked me about the restaurants. Some had seen the review. I really didn’t want to talk about it…
I re-grouped with my wife, both twins in hand, and they took me for one final viewing – to the first grade Pea Garden. We walked through the halls and into the courtyard where six not so perfectly groomed rows of peas stood tall and flowering. They looked pale green and so sweet. We walked over. I knelt down by the peas and dragged my hand through the plants gently. I picked off some leaves and handed them to my wife and kids. “Eat them” I said. They looked surprised at the notion. As they ate the leaves all of their eyes lit up, and smiles crept in. My daughter looked at me and said “they’re sweet daddy.”
“I know they are baby,” I said. “And they grow so fast…”