I had been warned that being a parent could be hard work, and now that I’m six years into the job, I’d say one of the toughest parts is finding someone who will listen to me brag about my kid.
No one really likes to hear a parent go on and on about his kid. It was as true a century ago as it is today. Evelyn Toynton reviews (Harper’s subscribers only) Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family by Alexander Waugh in the August Harper’s and quotes one of Arthur Waugh’s “almost daily” letters to his teenage son Alec, away at boarding school: “Son of my soul, who has walked so many miles, his arm in mine, and poured out to me a heart that the rest of the world will never know, but which I treasure as a golden gift from God.”
Toynton writes that Arthur was “so besotted” that “his friends feared for his sanity, and his employees…would inquire sarcastically as he entered the office, ‘And how is Master Alec this morning, sir?’”
I know better than to try to do kid-talk with my single friends. They don’t even try to hide their lack of interest. I’ve learned to save most of my stories of my boy’s wonderfulness for his grandparents, who seem like the natural audience for this sort of thing. But who knows, maybe they’re rolling their eyes at me the whole time, like Arthur Waugh’s employees. Not that this will stop me. Just last week my son wrote and illustrated his own eight-page book about prairie dogs, which must be an early sign of genius. It’s up to me to tell the world, or at least his grandparents, about it.