I’ve been pretty quiet here on GoFatherhood this last week because the kids are away on spring break with their Mom. In Hawaii. Nice. I have total warm beach envy.
As is doubtless common with joint custody, we alternate vacations on an even-year/odd-year schedule. Last spring break I took all three kids to Southern California and we rented a place on Laguna Beach, visited Disneyland, and spent a lot of time playing on the beach. Fabulous. This year it’s Mom’s turn. Next year, I’m toying with us all going to Disneyworld Florida.
Thing is, it’s complicated to manage the expectations and interests of all three kids and now that two of them are teens it’s even more tricky to identify activities that will engage all of them simultaneously. Unfortunately, the one who often gets the short end of the proverbial stick is my son G-, who just turned 13. Why? Because he’s the boy and Mom’s making decisions of what they should do based on popularity. Which makes it three against one, genderwise.
If it were up to him, they’d be hunting, fishing and playing video games, with an occasional visit to the beach so he can surreptitiously scope out the cute girls (though he’d never admit it. Hey, I was a 13yo boy once too!). I’m sure that none of that’s happening, though, and Mom said in advance “no electronics”.
My approach is different, to limit electronics but I recognize that just as I enjoy an occasional game of Bejeweled or W.E.L.D.E.R. on my iPad, they too enjoy computer and video games, find them relaxing and want ‘em as part of their vacation activities. All three kids.
G- and I have a tight relationship and he’s told me time and again that I’m very good at listening to him and coming up with plans that he finds engaging and fun. It’s also obvious that I resonate with his boyish interests and energies more than his Mom does, being a guy myself.
That’s one huge reason that boys really need their fathers in their lives, actually: so that there’s one parent who “gets” the passions and enthusiasms of young masculinity.
Even with the electronics prohibition, therefore, it didn’t surprise me much to receive a text message from him a few days ago saying “hi”.
Our conversation went like this (edited for privacy):
Me: “Hey. Miss you! How’s Hawaii? :-)”
G-: “I miss you too.”
Me: “You having fun and relaxing?”
G-: “Yes it is gr8. But I want to be home.”
Further conversation revealed that he’s having a great time in Hawaii, but misses me, and misses my approach to boy stuff like video games. He’s not coming home early — that’d be ridiculously complex, expensive, and unfair to his Mother who has the children for the entire break period — but I have to say that those six little words sure made my day.
“But I want to be home.”
Not home in Colorado. Home with me.
Yeah, I miss him too.