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Monday, September 27, 2004

Time Well Spent

The Grommet has a job. He's had this particular job since he was 13. He and his buddy Kyle wash boats down at the marina. Bryson's uncle owns a boat and asked Bry one summer if he'd like to start his own little business washing boats. It turned into something quite perfect for two little meatheads. They took it pretty seriously. They even had business cards attached to those little squishy, floaty, boat keychain thingies:

Bryson & Kyle's Boat Washing "Two Guys, Two Buckets, and a Dream"

It was a sweet little deal. Until this summer, when Kyle decided he didn't want to work that hard anymore and left Bryson holding the bucket, so to speak. Bryson continued on his own. I even asked him if he considered getting a new partner. He said, he'd rather handle things himself. It's a pretty big undertaking for one kid, but he carried on. I was proud of him.

Most weeks, I drive Bryson down to the marina myself. While he's working, I either walk the dog around the Dunes, or bring a book, a chair, and sit under a shady tree and read. I've been doing this with him for two years now. Sometimes, I marvel at this area we call home. We don't live in affluent Newport Beach. We live in Costa Mesa; just a few miles away. We have the "luxury" of living close to the ocean, but on "the other side" of the money tracks, so to speak. I sometimes wonder if I'd continued with my career instead of staying home with the kids, if we'd live like most of our friends live. Big, beautiful houses, nice cars, private schools, boats, etc. Affluence. It doesn't hit me that often, but when you're surrounded by all this "stuff," you can't help but think about it. And then...something happens and I'm reminded how lucky we are.

Lately, with all that's been going on in our world, Charlie's been working from 6am to 3pm, leaving work and going straight to visit his Mom (I visit with her during the day). Then, he goes to her house, picks up her mail, brings it home and goes through her bills and paperwork. After that, he eats dinner with us, takes care of our bills and paperwork, and usually around 9 pm, he falls asleep from sheer exhaustion. In between all of this, he struggles to get to Bryson's games, or PTA, or Back-to-school nights, or all those other things dads try to do. Since his mom got hurt, he's pretty much missed most of Bry's games, or any other of the girl's happenings. On the weekends, where you'd think he would just lounge around and rest, he's still going to see his mom, AND take care of the things around our falling apart house that need attention. Sometimes, the kids and I worry it's just too much. But he handles it.

On Saturday night, after he spent some dad/daughter time with Caris, I mentioned to him that I needed to take the Grommet down to the marina to wash boats the next morning. He said, to my surprise; "I'll go." I asked him why, with all that he's been doing, would he want to go do that. He responded; "I want to spend some time with him." So on Sunday, the three of us went down to the docks. As I expected, Charlie picked up a scrub brush and started helping Bry wash the boat. Someone else's boat. He didn't have to spend HIS free time like that. He just wanted to be with his son. Bryson, at first protested, but then, he relented, enjoying his dad's company. A job became fun.

As I watched them, I realized that nothing is more valueable. Those silly, wistful, sometimes even lustful, covetous thoughts I have. Oh hell, everyone has them. It's hard not to living where we live. Boats, fancy cars, big houses; they all have price tags. This family stuff, it's completely priceless. I wouldn't trade that for all the money in the world.

Last night, while we lay in bed talking about the day, my thoughts, his hard work; I told him how awesome a dad I thought he was. He said to me; "Don't you wish you and I had us for parents?" I laughed and said; "Parents? What about kids? You're a terrific son too." "Oh yeah?" He said. And with a sly grin asked; "How good a husband am I?" I smiled. "I'll let you know in about an hour or so...."


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