Being Dad

This post isn’t really about food, and that’s just the way I want it. I just spent three glorious days in Washington, DC with my 9-year old son. As many of you know, I have 4 children — 2 boys and 2 girls — ranging in age from 14 to 7. When you have so many kids, you kind of lose sight of the little things. You’re too busy keeping everyone on schedule, with soccer or dance or other school activities. As a lawyer, I spend about 60 hours a week trying to take care of my clients and building (or maintaining) my practice. I get home from the day to feed my wife and me (neither of us really want to eat her cooking). Anyone who is a parent knows it’s a constant struggle to keep track of car pools, doctor appointments, soccer and basketball practices (I coach both sports!), and all the other stuff. Oh, and then I find myself spending time writing about food every once in awhile, too. Frankly, when I get to the end of each day, week, month or year, it seems I really haven’t spent enough time just being Dad.

Well, this weekend was all about Benjamin and me, Dad and Son. It was just the two of us; taking the train to DC. Arriving in Union Station, where he stared at the ceiling in the main building; checking into our $20 a night hotel (including breakfast, thanks to a software glitch that the hotel honored), worried sick it would be a major dive (it was fine). We went to a play, a baseball game (with the Nationals winning in the bottom of the 9th), and sat in the 4th row of a movie theater with the biggest screen around — no, I didn’t throw up, but I wanted to. We were somber at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery and laughed out loud finding all the cool gargoyles on the National Cathedral. My son giggled watching the hippo trying to eat the big workout ball, he posed in front of abstract sculptures, trying to look like the art, and he became an expert in the Metro.

And, of course, we ate.

Restaurants weren’t selected based on what I wanted. Benjamin did the choosing for the most part. It was the meatloaf at Gillian Clark’s Colorado Kitchen one night. Some outstanding pizza at Two Amy’s the next. And when we didn’t want to wait an hour for a table, we bellied up to the bar at the Old Ebbitt Grill for one of DC’s best burgers (a Shirley Temple for the young man, a Guinness for the old man). We ate late dinners because we could. We ordered dessert when we were full (there is a separate stomach compartment for dessert, Benjamin reminded me). And sure, Benjamin tried my monkfish, arancini and clam chowder. He’ll try anything, and I don’t have to beg him to sample something new. But in the end, the highlight wasn’t the food — it was the meal itself. We could talk to each other, cracking jokes, and not worrying about the rest of the family for once. We were each other’s company from 8 AM on Friday until 6 PM Monday (that’s 82 straight hours for you keeping score at home), and we brought home nothing but great stories and memories. This weekend, I was more than a father, I was a Dad. Thanks for having me along, Buddy.

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8 Responses to Being Dad

  1. “(there is a separate stomach compartment for dessert, Benjamin reminded me)”

    Oh, he is WISE.

  2. ab says:

    Thanks for taking time out of your extremely busy schedule to share “real life” with us, Varmint! Some of us get so caught up we forget about the simple things. As a parent , I can’t wait to begin the, “try it, you may like it” method. (Although, at 7 months,she has already tried wasabi foam and seemed to enjoy it. ha, ha!)

  3. Erin says:

    That is a truly awesome post, Varmint. Than you so much for sharing!

    -Erin

  4. Fuzzy says:

    Great post, of course I’m a sentimental romantic. I always look forward to the times my son gets to visit me from his mother’s.

  5. M54 says:

    This is the first time I’ve read your post. How wonderful. I am sure you son will remember that weekend for a long, long time. Kids need their daddy. Anybody can be a father but a daddy is a whole different level. Good for you for making the time.

    I’ve raised three daughters (29, 24, 19) and are in the final stages of adopting a four and six year old brother and sister.

    Regarding daughters…. I always opened my daughters’ doors for them. Regardless of where we were, I always opened them. Reason being I wanted to instill into them at an early age that they needed to be respected. So when they began dating (group @ 15yrs, dbl @ 16 & single @23) and some yahoo guy did not treat them with the respect they deserved they would intuitively know it. Maybe not why but know something just wasn’t qjite right.

    Best of luck with your young family. Next month they will all be graduating High School; or at least when you look back that’s what it will seem like.

  6. James says:

    Thanks for sharing. I have 4 kids as well and feel like I am just trying to maintain. Thanks for sharing your wonderful weekend with us.

  7. Pam says:

    It sounds like absolute Heaven. It’s true that this will stick with him forever. It’s hard when you have more than one kid to give them that individual attention – particularly when you get up to 3 and 4 (or more!) Very cool that you recognize and did something about it. You may have just broken my 12 year-old son out of ‘jail’ making me feel all misty 😉

  8. Really enjoyed the story Varmint and I’m glad to see that you guys had a great time. I can’t think of any better way to arive in DC than Union Station.

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