Father’s Day, our full house was more like a poker game than a TV sitcom. In other words, my husband was dealt a pretty
good hand this year (maybe not a straight flush or four of a kind, but the next
best thing). Unlike Mother’s Day, both
kids are home. Max has graduated from
college and—after three or four reminders—he buys and signs his own Father’s
be on the safe side, Henry had emailed Max an ad showing a father and son team in
matching bathing suits.
Mom, I think Dad wants me to buy him this bathing suit.” Max yells to me from
the bedroom. “Maybe we should get it for
does he mean, ‘we?’ I enter his room and manage to sit down on his bed without
tripping over his laundry bag, which is filled with clean laundry (for a
change). Max isn’t unpacking, but has
decided to extract his clothing as needed.
“No, honey, Dad doesn’t want a bathing suit. It’s just his way of reminding you. A funny, creative card will be fine.”
expect a gift from any of us, and usually there’s nothing he wants. But this year I decide to buy him a linen
shirt that he‘d seen and liked, but hadn’t wanted to spend the money on.
manages to find a great card with a picture of father and son donkeys on the
front. The son’s front hooves are
resting on the father’s rear end. Inside
it says: “Happy Father’s Day from your little pain in the ass.” Henry and I both laugh.
always, Sarah picks out a sentimental card in a lime green envelope (because
green is her favorite color). The card
expresses her gratitude for her Dad’s love and support and thanks Henry for
helping her overcome many of her challenges.
All of the empty spaces are filled with her loopy, hard-to read-script,
along with colored-in hearts. At Henry’s
request, Sarah happily deciphers it aloud.
rain was forecasted for late in the day, the weather on Father’s Day is sunny,
and the temperature perfect. In many
ways, it's an ordinary Sunday. Henry,
Sarah and I work out at the gym together, while Max sleeps late. Then Sarah has her diet shake and goes to
meet her friends, while Max wakes up to join Henry and me for brunch and an afternoon
movie. We see “Kon Tiki” at the Paris
Theatre and can't help smiling at the recent memory of Sarah’s movie, “Keep
the Change,” at the Paris only a few weeks ago.
Tiki” is based on the true story of a group of Norwegians who sailed across 5000
miles of ocean in a balsa wood raft (a facsimile of those built 1500 years
earlier), proving that the Peruvians had colonized Polynesia, rather than the
Asians, as anthropologists had insisted. This adventure story—complete with sharks,
storms and a deadly reef— is exactly the genre that Henry loves. Survival stories are what Henry enjoys most,
maybe because he views his own life that way.
Supporting special needs twins, putting them through college, and
staying married to the same woman for 25 years definitely qualifies as a modern
day survival story.
seeing the big black camp trunks in our lobby makes him wistful. “Remember when our kids were going off to
sleep away camp?”
“Of course I remember.” Unlike Henry, I’m smiling. “They went off to have fun, and you and I got
to take a vacation alone.” Better still,
I had time away from the language therapists, the learning specialists and
micro-managing the busy lives of twins going in very different directions. Luckily, both of my kids loved their
respective sleep-away camps. This made
it much easier (at least for me) to let go and enjoy some time on my own.
Father’s Day is not perfect. Sarah has a mini-meltdown. She is determined to have a conversation
with me about improving her social skills, but I am trying to finish work on
the computer before we go out for dinner.
Sarah accuses me of “never
talking to her except at meals” (completely untrue) and not trying to help her
understand the difference between an interjection (a relevant or necessary interruption ) and an
annoying interruption that’s not on topic and could wait. By the time I calm her down and explain the
difference, I have reinforced the interruption by giving her a lot of
attention, something the behavioral therapists spent years teaching me not to
do. Oh well.
on Father’s Day is at our favorite Italian restaurant. In addition, to the four of us, my
mom—affectionately referred to as G-ma—joins us, along with “Uncle” Andy, a
dear friend I met at Vassar, whose father died two years ago.
“Remember when you asked if you
could take Marguerite home after graduation,” G-ma begins to reminisce with
Andy, "and if we minded taking home all her luggage instead? I’ll never forget that day as long as I
live.” She shoots Andy an evil grin.
will I!” Andy replies in a playful tone, as we all laugh nervously.
seemed perfectly normal at the time,” I add.
“But in retrospect….”
Fortunately, G-Ma is in excellent
spirits even before her apple martini arrives.
At 86, she is still sharp as a razor, and will happily criticize any
acquaintance or make a dig that starts an argument with a family member. We never know what she’ll say next—or how
loudly. She is going deaf, but can’t wear a hearing aid “because it’s nerve
Ellen (our cousin’s ex-wife) going down the street today and I almost didn’t
recognize her,” G-Ma gossips. “Not only has she aged, but her whole face
droops. She looks like a basset hound.”
laugh. Those of us at the table who know
Ellen always thought she was a sour puss and never liked her much, even when
she was married to our cousin. So far
we’re on safe ground. Like
Sarah, G-Ma particularly likes my attention, so the next sighting of someone
she knows and dislikes is directed entirely toward me. “Remember Irene?”
the mother of one of my elementary school classmates.” I explain to the rest of
the table. “None of the other mothers
liked her because she was a busy-body and tried to get one of my friends
expelled. My mom always thought Irene
looked like George Washington. "She
probably still looks the same, right Mom?”
actually she’s gotten very thick around the middle…”
laughter. G-Ma is in rare form. For tonight her targets are amusing and
entertaining. She’s happy because Henry
and I brought her a few bottles of wine.
Her doctor wants her to drink a glass every day to help with her tremors.
to be a good sport about being on a diet. While everyone has veal parmigiana, she sweetly orders her chicken paillard, steamed
spinach, and diet soda. She skips
dessert, and the rest of us decide to skip dessert too.
has gone pretty smoothly. Nothing
spectacular has happened, good or bad. You might even call it ordinary. But for our family, with its challenging cast
of characters, “ordinary” is a big win.
Labels: behavioral therapy, college, colllege graduation. learning disabilities, dieting, Father's Day, Kon Tiki, parent blogs, parenting, tutoring. autism, twins