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Archive for February, 2010

IT’S BEEN A WHILE…

I sat for 20 minutes last night in my favorite leather chair. On one thigh was my daughter, on the other (and, indeed, across my daughter and the other thigh too) as my cat. It was past her bedtime, but this was too good a moment not to soak in.

Simple pleasures.

Let them last a while. Don’t let a clock break them up. Enjoy the moment. And the one after that. I swear we all dozed off for 5 minutes. A slice of heaven in my own bedroom.

Time is the one thing I’ve always had a firm grasp of. I understand it’s deceptive nature, how it slips through fingers like sand, how it runs away like bathwater down a drain, and somewhere in my rock and roll addled brain, I realized early on that time with children needed to be savored whenever humanly possible. Growing up with the teenager, some of it spent as just myself, himself and kevin (my roomate many years ago between marriages) it was important to take a moment. We took many. He helped me drag my bicycle in ever morning after divorce from his mother, helped me with his 4 year old hands, dragged the front tyre through the door as I lost nearly 80lbs in a year. We’ve shared many moments at Spurs, my perennial favorite being the opening day of the 2002/03 season, a 2-2 draw at Everton, blazing sunshine, new shirts and a 25 yard equalizer which brought us together in the first true ‘moment’ when I knew he had absorbed the passion for the game (and club) for himself, when it wasn’t just a monkey-see-monkey-do happiness. We shared a pint of lager together at the Lane when he turned 16, in the beer garden, amongst old friends, and we’ve shared many hours in the car, talking, discussing, advising, bitching at each other, joking, being happy, sad, angry, mad or just being us.

From that time spent, from the fact that I have (more often than not) been able to pick him up from school and be there, we have built a friendship and trust beyond the parent/child relationship. And because of that, we know who each other is and we accept who we are. He knows that in the morning I’m as fast and happy as a quadraplegic tortoise until I get coffee down my neck, and he also knows that when I exclaim more joy at seeing Bubbles than him in those early moments of the day, it’s not personal, it’s just me, and I’m not saying Bubbsy’s better, I’m just saying I like to hug the warmth of the kitty first thing.

I feel the same thing happening with my daughter. She’s approaching 5 and it hasn’t always been easy. She can be anxious, impetuous and stubborn. But she’s also a warm, vibrant, explosively exciting and infectious personality. I know everyone says it about theirs, but I’m really telling the truth. Honestly.

I am generally doing what I did first time around. Time and schedules are built around her day. I generally see her in the mid afternoon after school, and we work through a myriad of things. Whenever I taste or feel her anxiety rearing uneccessarily, I deflate it with a casual flick of the hand and ‘refocussing’ question to get her away from a moment which might never happen and is too far ahead. And I reinforce trust. I ask her to trust me and I’m ready to take that responsibility. The fruit has blossomed recently. She has been in a wonderful space, and I feel like I know her better than ever.

The importance of time…

…my Mum just completed a visit, her first here for nearly three years. It went quickly. Too quickly. I’d had an inkling it would, but I’d steered clear of investing in that knowledge, instead taking each day of her visit as it unfolded. It still went too quickly, but trust me, had I been aware of that speed as it happened I’d have lost the whole visit to regret about the time drain.

…my wife and I went away for a night. We behaved like a couple again. We had champagne with our dinner and we laughed and joked around in our quiet getaway. We lolled around and did nothing. In the morning I knew it had gone quickly, but at least I hadn’t thought about that the night before.

…as my Mum left to go and visit one of her oldest friends for a few days, I was quiet and grumpy. Tired for sure, but there was more. I couldn’t get the ball out from under my feet, but I knew I would eventually. And when I did, I realized it had been about time. I was resentful that someone else was going to get a few days of my Mum’s time whilst she visited. Why, I wondered, couldn’t they have been content with seeing her for a night? Why, I thought, couldn’t they have let her have a couple more days with us, her boy and her grandkids?

I put my daughter to bed later that night. The teenager was out as was my wife, so I sat on the couch and listened to music. Bubbles jumped up and glued himself to my side. And as I sunk into the fluffy pillow of time and relaxing space such a simple pleasure always brings me, I realized that I was very happy to have the time I had with her at all. Two cancers. Nothing’s for granted. And I’d already booked everyone to join her and her partner for a long weekend in Vegas before they flew back home to the UK.  3 nights. It will be fun. Good times.

At the end of it all, time is all you have. So be sure you use it well. No regrets when it comes to the clock…well, as few as possible anyway…

n.b. This has been a more reflective ‘I Am Father’ and for those who are missing the usual stream of fart-laden consciousness which this column throws up, stay tuned because I’m sure it isn’t too far away, especially in our household.

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