I begin with ALEX.
He is at an incredible age. The perfect age. He is young enough so he wants to hang out with me all the time. He is old enough to take hiking and have great conversations. We’ve gone hiking together every weekend the last month and spent hours talking about countries he wants to visit. We snuggle on the couch and are making our way through Arrow on Netflix.
But there is a downside.
When a show ends he reaches over and clamps onto me like a dog with a bone. “You’re not leaving!” he squeals. He’s like a human bear trap. CLANK!
He will follow me from room to room. If I go in the kitchen, within minutes he is sitting in there with me. He chatters away and asks he if he can help me chop vegetables.
I’ll announce, “I’m going to the gym” and he’ll immediately say, “no you’re not.” Then he’ll spend the next 15 minutes asking why I need to go and can’t I stay with him.
At least once a day during the weekend I’ll snap at him: “ALEX, for God’s sakes! Give me some space!”
But for the most part, I’m reveling in it. I’m trying to take as much as I can get, because I know what will happen when he gets a little older…
Which bring me to JACK.
First off, Jack has stopped using consonants when he speaks to me or Shani. He mumbles under his breath like those “buds buds” guys selling drugs on the street.
I’ll be reading on the couch. He’ll come down in a hoodie (always a hoodie).
This translates to: “Dad, let’s go.”
I often don’t hear him.
“Cummahdalesco.” (“Come on, Dad. Let’s go.”)
And when the boy is gone, he is gone. I’ll drop him at the gym where town basketball games are played. Doesn’t matter if he’s playing or not. He’ll run the scoreboard or do whatever. He and his hoodied crew will go downtown and buy bulk candy at CVS. They’ll play football at the middle school. They’ll wander to each other’s houses, flop onto the couches, turn on the TV, and then all stare at their phones.
He’s got a group of about 10 boys that join up, separate, and re-join in various groups in various places. They’re like a weird group of amoeba forming and reforming in different configurations. Sometimes I’ll come home and find them draped on my couches.
“Cayooorerapieceorsumthee?” (“Can you order a pizza or something?”)
But he’s a clever boy. He’s lost his power to speak, but he’s still finding ways to communicate with me. Last weekend, I drove him to the gym. He turned on the radio to my classic rock station and started signing along with Pink Floyd.
“Aha!” I thought. He’s trying to send me a message through this radio. He’s showing me he knows the words to classic rock and he’s doing it for my approval. There’s still a human in there trying to communicate! He’s in there!
I got to the basketball gym and he hopped out of the car before I’d even fully stopped.
“Jack!” I called after him.
He took a step back towards the car.
“Can you come back for a second?”
“Come back. Sit.” He got in, completely impatient.
It was my turn to not communicate.
“What do you want, dad?”
I sat there.
“Dad! What! I need to…Oh…”
“Thank you for the ride.”
He was off.
“Love you!” I called.
“Love you too!”
Then he was gone.