Not being a good father
SUNDAY, March 8 – The boys are standing in front of me. At this moment all I want to do is read the Sunday papers, undisturbed, and at my leisure. What are we going to do today? When children ask this question, it usually means they’re bored to death and don’t feel like doing anything. I counter with ‘Well, what do you feel like doing?’
The answer is predictable: Don’t know. Beach? Don’t feel like it. Walk in the forest? Not again! Movie? There’s nothing interesting playing. Museum? Not really. Okay, you come up with something. No ideas. We’re bored.
At that point I’ve had enough. Into the car, the two of you! No nonsense. It’s not until I’m sitting behind the wheel that I decide to head for the beach, with the dog.
Outside of Amsterdam we hit a traffic jam and in the back seat all hell breaks loose. I lose my temper and inform them that I’ve had just about enough of their griping and, further, that I’m sick and tired of having to dream up things for the two of them to do because they don’t have any ideas of their own.
My elder son then retorts that Mom would have had plenty of ideas and that she always came up with something. Besides that, I insisted on doing things on the weekend when they’d just as soon stay home. After digesting his words, I turn around and head back to the city. I apologize to them. I had to admit I haven’t been much of a father today. I just didn’t have it in me. I was really sorry, and I said so.
I drop the boys off at the park that’s close to home, together with the dog: ‘Take Elsa for a walk. I’ll expect you back in three quarters of an hour, and no sooner. Toodle-oo! Papa’s going to go home and read his paper.’
When they got back, each of the boys told me separately that I wasn’t a failure as a father and also that they hadn’t been such good sons. With a hug and a kiss, everything was okay again. Oh, and would it be all right if they used my computer?
‘No’ was clearly not an option.