Saturday, January 14, 2012

I was thoroughly relieved to see that the weekend had, in fact, arrived this morning, and on schedule. I worry sometimes. Just set the calendar to *default* and those two work-free days usually appear on their own, but I don't know... sometimes they don't.

I still have piles of it on my desk, and the only reason I wouldn't put it off to Monday is to make next week a little less stressful. Given the looming pressures we have hanging over the household currently, it's probably a good idea to get every little thing done, while we can. "One less worry always makes a difference," is a decent motto. For suburban pirates.

Which, I suppose, is why Mrs. Ditchman took both kids out and had their hairs cut yesterday. I guess she thought if it didn't happen now, it wasn't going to happen for another 6 months, and then that house at the end of the cul-de-sac, the one with the long grass and the long hair and the long faces, yeah, did you hear? Those hippies had another kid!

I will be kegging the beer today. I will decant it out of the fermenter, set it to carbonate with a little bit more sugar, lubricate the o-rings, seal it off, and then roll the thing into the cellar (garage) for some real-time aging. It will not be tapped until that new baby arrives. Baby Celebrator! I'm calling it. It's a bold, west coast ale, infused with all the sentiment and decorum of the traditional English grains used by my forefathers. A bit darker, a bit higher in overall alcohol content, but full-bodied (I hope.) Just the thing for fathers with a newborn. Come by and try it! Kiss the baby and lift a glass in his/her honor. Pat us on the back and tell us we'll survive.

Well, what would you do? Drink up, for we can always make more! Beer, that is -we can always make more beer, not babies. Though I suppose we could try. We could always try! Cheers!

What we really need to be making more of is work, however. We need it piled high on my desk, here, stealing away every weekend, and forevermore. (Or at least until the bills are paid up.) It was a long December, as it always is, and we are paying for it now, literally. All intentions are to catch up with our creditors swiftly and completely, so that we can get back to living. I've got big plans for the year. Big plans to eliminate all extraneous, pressing obligations, so I can focus on my family, and maybe actually join them at the zoo or the theme parks this time around, before we all grow out of it. Try to be more than half a dad.

I have been feeling lately that it's all been passing by much too quickly, and I suspect that it's something men feel, at this period in their lives. I don't exactly mean it in the they-grow-up-so-fast! sense, which is what parents always say, but rings wrong in every literal sense. They don't grow up fast. They don't, in fact, grow up any faster or slower than anything. What's happening is you're getting busier. You're maturing into your work, and making better use of your time. You're setting some things in motion and allowing other things to happen in the background. You must. There's too much to do now, people depend on you to get it done, and those long days of slumbering in the sun with an unfinished bottle of beer warming on the little table next to you are over and gone. The days of make-believe and travel beyond the horizon are behind you. We're there now. And it's all very real, and you've got to pay the mortgage on the castle and put food on the table. No one else will do it for you. Or for them.

And yet, the little ones are downstairs with their lightsabers, in their Saturday morning pajamas and crying out in their play-voices: "We need to pull up the drawbridge, NOW! THEY'RE COMING!" And so the old dreams of make-believe are in them and around you, and have never gone anywhere. I get too busy to notice, too pre-occupied to join in the battle, too intent on paperwork and email and phone calls where I must slam the office door on their loud fairytale demands. They're not growing up too fast, they're just growing up without you noticing, and you're growing tired -and desperate- from the wrong play. They're growing up too fast! Blame some pagan, supernatural laws of physics, if you must.

I had a dream the other night. I was in the street with the Little Digger and it was raining heavily. He was running from me and he slipped and hit his head on the curb, where a torrent of water washed him away and down into the sewer, and I woke up with a start, feeling helpless and horrified. It's a simple nightmare and I don't need an interpreter. But I reflected on it later and recognized the street in the dream. It was Redwillow Lane, in La Canada -the town where I grew up. It was the street on which I walked home every day, when I was in elementary school, thirty-five long years ago.

You have children and then you remember being a child, and you see yourself in your children and you think all those things that you were never sure your parents thought: I want them to have what I didn't have, I want them to feel safer than I did, I want to give them good reason to trust me... And the only way to do all that is through self-sacrifice, which is the one thing through the ages that has been consistently misinterpreted. In every religion, and in every family. And that's the sacrifice: that they'll never get it.

So you go to work, and you try and shut up about it, and you hope that they're happy to see you when you get home. And, if you're even a little bit wise, come weekends you pull up the drawbridge and get in on the real action and slay the dragons with the kids.

You get home. And if you get home, you get to keep it.