Submitted by PeterElias on Sun, 11/27/2011 - 06:00

I wished I hadn’t asked...

It was late afternoon. My father-in-law and I were sitting out front in the still warm but mercifully weakened Florida sun, watching my two kids biking up and down on Biscayne Lane. It was about halfway through our annual April vacation week visit to my wife’s parents on the Key, and by that time of day I was always spent. Gretchen and Joran were early risers of the high energy variety, going full speed - and not always in the same direction - from before a very early breakfast until they collapsed well after dusk. A combination of the salt air and sun on top of the constant watchfulness required when supervising and entertaining young children on the beach, at the pool, at the marina, teaching bridge, running errands, and at meals at the yacht club made me dream of returning home to the relative restfulness and predictability of my family practice residency. 

There was never any traffic on the lane, and the local kids were keeping my two safely busy, so Al and I could sit quietly with our after dinner scotches and talk while we watched the kids play. I was looking forward to darkness and wondering if I could last until their bedtimes. Al seemed so much more relaxed than I felt, and, with his kids in their 30s and fully launched, it occurred to me to ask, “How long do I have to wait? When does this parenting thing start to get easy?”

There was a long pause as he gently rotated his glass, studying the ice cubes as they bumped and clinked. His answer was quiet and seemed not really directed at me at all.  But what an impact it had.

“Good question. I don’t know yet.”


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