Savoring the Nanoseconds

orig posting 01/30/2008
john-belushi-college-poster-c10000320

How many blog entries exist that begin with the following, or words to the same effect: Sorry for the lag in posts, but …

But if any of you have been reading this one with anything like regularity and were getting something out of it, then I am indeed sincere when I say, “Hey, I’m really sorry about the lag in posts, but…I can yammer on more, NOW!”

So, I found out the other day I get to go to college again. Yeah. I’m thrilled. It’ll be with my daughter. Yeah, we were talking about something the other Saturday and I offered, “…bla bla bla, when you’re off at college, you can bla bla bla bla…” She says to me, “Dad, I don’t WANNA go off to college!” And forgetting that she is not a miniature full-grown person but a kid, thus possessed of Kid-Think and Kid-Mind, I slipped into “OMG, Here’s An Opportunity to Seize the Moment and Instill the Right Virtues About Education” mode, ie, earnest, shit, maybe even sanctimonious. I said, “Why, honey?” not wanting to lead her yet with my opinion but find out why she’d say something that I was mistakenly hearing as the sort of thing that is as close to apostasy as my kids could say, in my book.

Her lower lip curled into the sad lip and she almost cried, “cuz I don’t wanna go off away from you!”

Joy! Rapture! I was totally wrong and my daughter LOVED me! Woo hoo! Well there was lots of “ohh, honey”s and such, hugs, good stuff, and then, still being a literal minded IDIOT, I started to say, “Well ya know honey, there are lots of great colleges right here in the Bay Area! Why, you could…” I heard myself and FINALLY clued in. “Well can I come with you to college?” I asked her, at last parlez vous’ing.

And …SHE SAID YES!!!!!!

Hot damn! She was totally stoked! She settles into happy mode and says, as if already planning the way we’ll (she’ll) decorate our (her) dorm room and says, “Yeah, you’ll go off WITH me to college.”

I asked a few times, because, well, I wanted to be sure.

So friends, family, countrymen, I’m gettin’ all college fevered up! Packin’ some bags, listening to college radio, boning up on my Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, and some other cool kid type stuff, too. Oh, I know it’s still about 14 years away, but dudes! College! “Hey, who’s that…DUDE hanging out w/ you,” the kool kidz will ask my cool-as-all-hell daughter. “Oh, that’s my Dad!” And they’ll all think it’s soo cool. Me, livin’ there. Chillin/ Makin’ sandwiches for our housemates. Keggers. Sittin’ in classes with her. (this last one was the source of some good laughs as I related all these exciting ways we’d get to share her college experience and pretended as if the chairs would still be too small for me — as if college was to be attended by her 4 year old self, and I bunched myself up as if stuffed into a child’s desk; she loved that, we ran with it for a few moments, laughed a lot…moved on..)

She assured me that yes, I would have to go with her to college so we could be together. She sort of immediately segued right back into animating the toys she held in her hands, and I remained sitting on the floor smiling at her, savoring the nanosecond of the reality where she wants me with her always. The reality of the next moment where she wasn’t even thinking about it anymore had already begun its surrender to the reality of me standing up to respond to requests for lunch from her and her brother within a few seconds.

Remaining silent about what you and I know that she doesn’t know about what will really happen 14 years from now when she does in fact go off to college is simply part of a parent’s job description. Violating that particular part of parenting I can only compare to this: imagine you have a candle, a small candle, and the sun is setting, it’s getting very dark, very fast. The candle is lit, and you have to walk down a hallway carrying that candle in order to light the other candles and lamps that will light and warm the house with its flame, which is so small that as you walk you actually have to move slowly and keep your hands guarding it from the wind. Telling her how it’s really going to be would have been exactly like removing my hand from the candle, and knowing that it’s the only way to light the rest of the house and see at all or make it through the cold night, watch it dance and flicker in the gusts before being quickly and thoroughly extinguished. I’ve never been one at all delighted by the act of destruction, so clearly there was nothing that was going to make me share what will really happen then. I’m hardly in any rush. Every single second that ticks by also talks: bye, it says. I’m growing more and more and am growing up up and away. So please, Mr. Time, it’s ok, you can go as slowly as you want.

Plus, it’s not like as her Dad I have the right to violate her innocence and natural growth of understanding. Only Life is entitled to tell us those type of things, and it’s only life’s voice we hear anyway on such matters.

Sooooo as it stands now, I’m still planning on a second go at college with my daughter in apx. 14 years. Wish me luck!

Here’s a poem for today. Thanks to my friend Tim Orr, also a dad, for directing me to it. It’s by a fairly renowned fellow named Li-Young Lee.

A Story

Li-Young Lee

Sad is the man who is asked for a story
and can’t come up with one.

His five-year-old son waits in his lap.
Not the same story, Baba. A new one.
The man rubs his chin, scratches his ear.

In a room full of books in a world
of stories, he can recall
not one, and soon, he thinks, the boy
will give up on his father.

Already the man lives far ahead, he sees
the day this boy will go. Don’t go!
Hear the alligator story! The angel story once more!
You love the spider story. You laugh at the spider.
Let me tell it!

But the boy is packing his shirts,
he is looking for his keys. Are you a god,
the man screams, that I sit mute before you?
Am I a god that I should never disappoint?

But the boy is here. Please, Baba, a story?
It is an emotional rather than logical equation,
an earthly rather than heavenly one,
which posits that a boy’s supplications
and a father’s love add up to silence.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Savoring the Nanoseconds

  1. Pingback: return, mine « Fatherhood Poetic

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