Thursday, June 28, 2007

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

It occurred to me today that two weeks have passed since I took The Sole Heir to see the US Open. It was part of a long Fathers Day weekend: the Open on Thursday, nine holes of golf on Friday, with my dad riding in the cart over the course he taught me to play on, watching his granddaughter play golf for the first time. Thirty-six holes of miniature golf on Saturday, then home to watch the final round of the Open.

I wish I was as smart every day as I was the day I thought up that weekend. It was four days of multi-level bonding, including my mother teaching the Crazy Like Correspondent the secrets of homemade Syrian Bread. They may not sound like much, but by Sunday evening they had acquired an almost surreal glow, events far enough removed from normal activities to seem like they’d happened to someone else.

The cool part is that they didn’t. We spent eleven-and-a-half hours walking the Oakmont Country Club, watching the world’s finest golfers, talking about golf, and whatever else came to mind. Not a harsh word, none of the strained good humor that comes from a sixteen-year-old feeling dragged around by her old man, or the old man resenting the kid for hurrying him. When we left the course for the gift shop at 7:45, we both agreed we’d have stayed if there was any more golf to be seen.

It was the best vacation I’ve had since out last car trip to Colorado in 2005. In some ways it was even better. Opportunities like this don’t come up every day; yours probably won’t include a golf tournament. Stay alert for them. They won’t hit you over the head, and they aren’t the kinds of things you’ll miss if you don’t do them. Only after they’re done will you appreciate what was gained by making the effort.

One last thing: Don’t wait until the kids are sixteen before thinking of cool stuff. Kids know when you’re doing something because you think you should, maybe when you finally realize time is running out on how long they’ll remain kids. Don’t kid yourself; no matter how old they are, the time is running out now. Start today. Expose your kids to things that give you satisfaction. They won’t grab onto all of them. They might not get any of them. But they’ll understand and appreciate the effort if they know it’s sincere, and that’s all that really matters. Parents who doesn’t get as much from their children as the kids get from the parent shouldn’t be parents.

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