As a working dad, weekdays have always been tough. I'm usually out of the house before the kids are up, and home right around bedtime. Forget dinners with family around the table. Dinner is whatever you can forage between the distractions of everyday life.
When life gives you a wedge of lemon, you suck on that and extract whatever you can. Lemonade is a luxury for folks with time and a pitcher. To make the most of my few minutes with Fury on weekdays, we instituted our aptly named "10 minutes playtime." For close to a decade, I've been getting on the floor each night with Fury and playing Legos, Star Wars figures, Bionicles, Hot Wheels, Transformers, or any mashup thereof.
But kids grow up, and play evolves. Fury no longer lives out scenarios with his toys where I can easily grab an action figure, make up some robotic voice, and jump right into. Now he likes to create. He conjures up entire armies of hybrid Bionicles. He uses parts from his dozens of Lego sets to build war machines. It's more reflective, solitary. Robot voices need not apply.
Sometime last week, as we made our way to his toy stash, Fury stopped and asked "Dad, I don't feel like playing with toys today. Can you just tell me about what it was like when you were a kid for our 10 minutes instead?"
He just wanted to chat.
So he lay in his bed and I sat in the chair beside him and we talked. We talked about how bad I was at sports as a kid, and how I only scored one goal in youth soccer (in practice) and how in youth baseball, I only made contact with a ball once (foul), and of course we talked about the guy in Florida who ate the homeless guy's face off before he was killed by the cops. Because the dawning zombie apocalypse is relevant for any conversation in the house of Lin.
The next night, the Bionicle army stood by in the dark as we talked about the conflict in Afghanistan, North Korea's threat to launch missiles at South Korea's media companies, and Hot Wheels' new line of toys (I hope client NDAs cover 10 year-olds).
The other night we discussed careers. He wants to be a video game designer. This works because it gives me leverage to make him do his math homework. It might even make all our Xbox games tax deductible.
"Dad, what did you want to be when you grew up?"
"A marine biologist."
"Well, you could still do that. They'll hire you because you're already a VP and it looks good on your resume."
"That makes sense. I never thought of it that way."
"Also, all you have to do is hold up a fish and spout random facts about it. You're good at that."
Like toy time, I'm sure our conversations will also evolve as he and I get older. I will see the world through his eyes and guide him with my hindsight. He will see the world I have mapped out and explore it with fresh vision. There will be moments to ponder, issues to tackle, emotions to sort, stances to take, decisions to face, opportunities to laugh.
"Oh Fury -- that guy who got his face eaten? He survived! I saw a picture today. He has a skin graft over his eye and a hole for a nose, but he's alive!"
"Don't the doctors know that he's going to eat them now?"
And zombies. There will always be zombies.
* * * *
Bonus reading material: I posted about life lessons from the film Goodfellas on Mamapop last week.