It’s been a few months since I’ve posted to this blog, and you should know that my absence was mostly connected to the reason I write this in the first place. What I mean is that I’ve often been conflicted in my attempt to post weekly and how it might interfere with my being a father—the amount of time it takes away from him (I discuss this in a previous post: “Since I Seen’t You”). And so over the summer I allowed the blog to take a back seat. After a semester of teaching and toddler rearing, I simply wanted to be: wanted to be present during our home visit, subsequent travels, and road trips.
You know what’s funny about a 12 hour drive from Oxford MS to Milwaukee WI with a 20 month old, is that sometimes your baby is asleep and you’re cruising through Missouri (don’t ask which part because I fucking can’t remember—but not St. Louis). And he’s only been asleep for about 20 minutes because during the first 6 hours of the drive, he bounced around his car seat in some molly-induced turn-up. And somehow you believe he knows how to torture you—how to play your buttons like Beethoven. Because he’s never gone 6 hours in the a.m. without a nap—normally he can’t go 30 minutes in a car without passing out—but he knows daddy prefers silence or soul music for these long hauls. But he don’t care. He gives daddy loud baby talk and whining. His eyes say “daddy what you gone do, huh, keep yo eyes on the road brotha.” He does this for almost 6 hours (through Mississippi, through Tennessee, and through Missouri).
But he’s sleep now, and you’re content. And you’re driving through some part of Missouri with something sweet on the radio. So here’s what’s funny about those twelve hour drives sometimes. Sometimes traffic begins to slow down, then really slow down, then really really slow down, and then come to a complete halt. And you find yourself thinking it must be some construction work ahead and start looking for which side to merge. But ain’t nobody moving on this freeway, and ain’t nobody merging. We all still like meditation. And it goes on just like this for 20 minutes until a young woman exits her car and casually strolls down the freeway. It’s obvious she’s trying to gain a perspective on what’s ahead. And like us Americans tend to do, everybody else begin to exit their cars. So now people are chatting, looking, and pointing. And you want to get out too but don’t feel comfortable leaving your wife and baby boy. But it’s really starting to look like some Tom Cruise Armageddon shit out there (imagine stacked cars as far as you can see in front and behind you—imagine people casually chatting on the freeway like cooks on a smoke break).
Here’s what’s not so funny about some traffic jams: some traffic jams happen because a car catches fire on the freeway leaving travelers with nowhere to go (because you’re all stacked like canned biscuits and moving forward isn’t an option). Then you start to realize you may never make it to Milwaukee or even off the freeway or even to pee again—you think—what if I have to pee. And GPS can’t save you now. And because you’d been communicating with other travelers and traffic cops, your napping baby is waking up. This is when a 12 hour drive becomes 14: when you get to see parts of Missouri you didn’t intend to, when the invincible cloak of parenthood and parent intuition takes over, when you’re peering in the rearview mirror at the 2 hours of stop-go, merge-brake, horn blowing, and baby screaming you just left behind.
And once it’s finally all behind you, you remember that you have to go back the same way you came in a little less than a month. And because that ain’t funny, it becomes funny. And you and your family say a prayer for the driver of the car that caught fire. And y’all hope he/she/they made it out in time.
But what’s really funny is this post was never intended to talk about a Missouri apocalypse jam. What I wanted to do was catch y’all up on what’s been happening in the world of parenting since my last post. Here’s a few summer highlights:
Out of the blue my son started making this strange facial expression I deemed “sexy face.” What’s weird about “sexy face” is that sometimes it looks suave and other times like he wants to punch you in the stomach.
My boy visited Chuck E. Cheese for the first time and balled out. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to go to Chuck E. Cheese as an adult without a budget—you can ball out in Chuck E. Cheese with just one kid for a couple dollars (I remember my mom passing out tokens like bread). In retrospect, I’m not sure if he went to Chuck E. Cheese or if I went to Chuck E. Cheese. I just know I’m thankful they didn’t have beer.
I collected the MIAL 2014 Poetry Book of the Year Award in Jackson, Mississippi. And since we didn’t have a sitter on the first night, I popped a bottle in the hotel room and partied with my boy. See how excited he is. See how hard he turns-up.
We moved at the end of the summer. And what was so funny about that is somehow my boy picked up an affinity for cleaning. He loves to clean (I’ll elaborate in a later post). In some weird way he sensed what was going on. He was eager to see what was on the other side of those doors.
And so that’s most of it. Well kind of. There was that time he fell out of the bed, and the moment he started to choke intentionally, and the time he started banging his head against the wall when he was pissed, and the funny time when…