Forgive us if the boy and I are a little scared. Because of a job transition, mom won’t be here for a few months.
And it shows.
Something sinister appears to be growing on the side of the fridge (lab report will be back in a few days). We can explain the crunching sound on sections of the kitchen floor. We can neither confirm or deny that Facebook has been open during dinner. The two of us agreed that bedtimes are overrated.
If she asks, the boy is getting all the nutrition that Costco and Taco Bell can provide. Laundry will get done at some point, once the next Call of Duty game ends.
Mom worries a lot when she calls, and I’m not sure why. Make sure he has clean underwear, that he takes his medicine and doesn’t slip on his cereal bowl, she says.
Nothing to worry about, I tell her. He’s 14 and I got everything under control. Piece of cake.
After 23 years, my wife doesn’t believe me, for she knows I’m barely housebroken myself. For trips to the grocery store, she’s contemplated pinning notes on me, the way your teachers did in grade school.
OK, so maybe I exaggerated a tiny bit. We only stayed up late twice, maybe three times. Only one meal was in front of the television set and he’s only been late to school once. For the record, we actually cooked a meal once that didn’t include a box, and the dishes have been done almost every night.
More importantly are those moments when we can’t stop laughing together or when we sneak around the apartment, Nerf guns at the ready.
Even before bedtime, he might walk out to where I am, ready to share something personal and important. That’s my sign to stop what I’m doing and listen with all I’ve got.
With my ears and my heart.
For a 14-year-old, starting school in a new state in the middle of the year, away from his mom for an extended period of time, that might be the most meaningful thing I can do as a dad.