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.