I play and/or speak 100 times a year nowadays. That’s a lot of goodbyes. And every one of them is the same. A hug. A kiss. A brief explanation of where I’m going and how long I’ll be there.
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Daddy.”
And I’m out the door. And my kids are on the couch eating breakfast – seemingly unaffected.
Becky left this morning to visit her sister in New York City and her goodbye last night was a little different. There was some whining, some sniffling, a little worry on three small faces as if to say: Don’t leave us alone with this man, Mommy. What will we eat? What will we wear? What will we do without you? He can’t match clothes and forgets to eat sometimes – are you aware of this?
I recognize the fear. I remember my mom leaving me alone with my dad one weekend when I was smallish. I remember eating shiny plasticky dry pancakes and drinking the wrong kind of milk. I remember a bedtime that felt earlier than usual, bath water that didn’t run deep enough, a wake up that involved a bugle call and no back rubbing.
[Note to self: Leave saxophone in the attic for the next few days and do not attempt pancakes.]
But I can do things Mom can’t or won’t do. I’ll show them.
I can wrestle. I can put a tent in the living room. I can smack talk during board games and wrestling and, for no good reason, while putting up a tent in the living room. I can fry pork chops and thinly sliced potatoes and onions. I can tolerate the mall. The. Mall.
I can play in the creek at the park and throw large stones into the middle of it and convincingly pretend they’re cannon balls fired by pirates. I can fill a head with pony tails in about a minute.
I can burp. Very loudly. And fart. Also very loudly.
I lack the compassion for caged animals that keeps my wife out of pet stores and zoos. I can touch bugs and feed them to our Venus Flytrap.
I can play any song on the piano that little people want to dance to – including, but not limited to Hey Ya!, Canon in D and Viva La Vida. I can eat Chick-fil-A for every meal and I’m willing to go down the slide on their playground.
I can and will do these things for the next couple days. And the kids will cry when mom comes home. Not that I want anyone to cry or that I need the validation; I’m just saying it’s a possibility. That’s all. A very strong possibility.