A.J.’s mom was out with a friend all day yesterday, kayaking of all things. And so I had the job of hanging around the house while A.J. and his friends tore around, and occasionally through, the place. There was only one slightly bad accident, when A.J. and his friend C. bumped heads while playing jump-off-the-stairs and ice packs had to be produced for both of them. They kept the ice packs on their heads for about five seconds each before they started having what I guess you would have to call ice-pack fights with them.
Later, while I was downstairs reading the paper, C. snuck into our bedroom (which is supposed to be a kid-free zone) and dragged in a four-foot-tall water-filled plastic figure of Patrick Starfish (co-star of “SpongeBob SquarePants"), which C. proceeded to punch repeatedly until the thing sprang a leak and pretty well soaked our bedroom floor.
It was at this point that I ordered the boys out of the house, to see what kind of damage they could do to the side yard.
I got the water cleaned up as well as I could (I went through three beach towels), turned on some music (Lorraine Hunt Lieberson doing Handl arias) and poured myself a bourbon (I’d made myself wait until five o’clock). I watched A.J. and C. play one-on-one touch football in the angling autumn sunlight and even their constant arguments (“I got you!” “Nuh-uh!” “Uh-huh!”) didn’t really bother me. I don’t know if I should credit Handl or the bourbon or the autumn light.
Later, after C. had gone home for dinner, A.J. talked me into a few last football plays outside before bedtime. He likes it when I kick off to him and he tries to return the kick for a touchdown and I try to tackle him. This time, I caught him at midfield and picked him up and spun him around a few times before I put him down. He squealed through the whole thing.
“There’s no squealing in football!” I told him, trying to sound like a hard-ass football coach. “We’re not playing My Pink Pony here!”
He laughed. “You’re the weirdest and funnest dad in the world,” he said.
Then it was time to go in and get ready for bed. But that’s one tackle I’m going to remember.