Friday, July 20, 2007

A Long Week, Ending

So.... here we are. It's Friday. Our week of mommy and daddy time, coming to an end.

Tomorrow, I will spend the day with Soccergirl, Fastpitch, and my dad, in Baltimore. When I return home, it is likely that soccergirl will crash for the whole 70 minute drive home. After all of the ripping and running she has been doing at my dad's house, I think she'll get a good night's sleep... she will need it, because on Sunday morning, she is scheduled to serve as Acolyte at church. She'll have to be on her toes.

I can't wait.

Monday, July 16, 2007

To Grandfather's House We Go

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure (and sad task) of driving to Baltimore to take Soccergirl to my dad's house for the week.

I call it a great pleasure because A) She is going to have a great time with her older sister, who also got to my dad's house yesterday. B) Mrs Gunfighter and I get to spend a week without running to and from Soccergirl's activities, and C) Mrs Gunfighter and I get to spend a little alone time together.

It was also somewhat sad, because to tell you the truth, it is very strange not having Soccergirl around. It isn't as if she is underfoot all of the time... she is quite capable of amusing herself when she likes... but I miss her.

After dinner, last night, Mrs GF and I sat there and listened to the quiet... I miss my girl. I'm glad she is having fun... but I miss her.

You see, I like that kid. A lot.

Of course I love her... but I really like her. She is smart. She is funny. She is caring. She is intuitive. She is athletic. She is empathetic. She really is a good kid.

We are going on 24 hours now....

It is going to be a long week.


Monday, July 9, 2007

Through The Upstairs Window

I wrote this on the 5th of May, while I was watching Soccergirl play outside with one of her neighborhood friends:

Through the upstairs window, I watch you playing on the lawn. I’m still wearing my shoes, even though I would rather take them off, just in case I have to go downstairs to help you if you fall.

I can hear you singing.

You are playing with the pink ball that I bought for you a few weeks ago.

As much as I tell you that I love you, and as much as I know that you know that I love you, I don’t think there are words enough to describe it to you.

You see, you are my second chance.

My second chance to be the father I have always wanted but didn’t have. My second chance to be present in the life of my child, after my first marriage fell apart, and took your older sister so far away.

Do you know how important it is that I don’t screw this up?

Maybe you will when you get older.

I want so many things for your future, but I am not going to saddle my unfulfilled dreams on your shoulders. What I mostly want for you, is happiness. I want you to be happy.

I want you to go through your adult life with as much joy as you have right now, shrieking and laughing with Fionna as you play tag.

I want to be the example of what you see in your mind’s eye when you think of what a husband and father should be; a man that comes home from work and spends his time with his family; a man that takes care of and protects his family; a man that is respectful of his wife and children; a man that doesn’t believe in violence in the home; a man that is a fully participatory father.

I hope I can live up to it. I think I’m off to a good start.


Friday, July 6, 2007

On Becoming a "Local"

Is the place you live the same place as you were raised?

For most of the people that I encounter on a daily basis, here in the in the Washington, DC area, the answer is an emphatic no.

I live in Prince William County, Virginia, approximately 25 miles south of Washington, DC, and until about 25 years ago, Prince William would be considered by many to be a backwater. It hadn't yet been engulfed in the suburban sprawl that is now busy consuming green spaces with Ebola-like speed. The county population was fairly small, as it was mostly rural.

Fast forward to today. Prince William has a large population... I think it is the second most populous county in Virginia, behind our immediate neighbors to the north in Fairfax county... where some of the readers of this blog live.

Northern Virginia, and it's suburban Maryland counterparts, is home to huge numbers of government employees and military personnel, so it should come as no surprise that the majority of the people that you meet are originally from somewhere else.

None of our neighbors are native to the area, and only three of my colleagues can claim to be life-long local residents.

Mrs Gunfighter and I came to the Washington, DC area in the 1980's, and moved into our house in Prince William, when we got married in 1994. Sprawl started even before we moved here, but, even then the differences were palpable. In 1994 we could still go to the grocery store and see blue-haired white women that routinely greeted us with: "Howy'alldoin'?" (yeah, it came out like that) Not so much anymore.

In the past few years, much has changed. I have begun to feel like "a local". I have started to say "old guy" stuff like: "Remember when we moved here, and route 123 (or 234, or Spriggs road)was a winding two-lane road?". I have been wondering about this lately and I have decided that the catalyst between living in this community and being a part of this community is having children.

Soccergirl is our anchor here. We are involved in youth soccer, the church, girl scouts, and her school. Is it any wonder that we can be at the mall/bookstore/supermarket/you-name-it, and we see people we know... everywhere? Mrs G and I are not hugely social... in that we tend to go home and stay home, or do things together as we are busy most of the time, so our social interaction happens at soccer games, girl scout meetings, chatting with the "school moms" during school pick-up times (this is usually me).

Yesterday, I found myself talking, at different times with different parents about summer camps, travel soccer (no thanks!), school events for next year, vacation bible school, swimming lessons, day care and Tae Kwon Do all in the span of two hours. I talked with several parents and discovered that we knew people in common and wind up saying things like: "oh sure, I know her, she drives the green minivan with the Australia sticker on the back" or "Yeah, she goes to our church". Jeez, we even know some of the local politicians for whom streets and parks are named.

This place that we live, this bedroom community of commuters and SUV's (not us, thank you) has become our home. When I do the math, I come up with incontrovertible proof: I have lived here longer than I have lived in any one place in my life; we refer to the house at the corner of our street as "Tom and Arlene's house", even though Tom and Arlene sold that house and moved 10 years ago; we don't socialize with anyone (with the exception of sg's godparents, and them rarely) that we did when we moved here... back then, all our friends were DC friends from work; soccergirl is FROM here.. this area is the only home she has ever known, and will likely grow to adulthood right in this place.

Kind of strange, isn't it?

Adulthood.... suburban parenting... being a local.

Growing Up

On my other blog, when I have talked about Soccergirl, I have mentioned that at age eight (nearly nine), she doesn't have a lot of little girl time left. Although she isn't done being a little girl (not with the constant bombardment of "Spongebob" that we deal with), there are little things that creep in that tell us that she is growing up. Sometimes it is the use of a new word... sometimes it is doing something that she loved last week, and she tells you this week that it's "for little kids, daddy".

The little things sort of flow around you, because, well, they are little. Every now and a gain, you get to a major thing. A few weeks ago, Soccergirl got out of the bathtub (she was in the master bath in the big soaker tub) and came into the master bedroom. She saw me there and immediately shriekd and covered herself with a towel.

That's right, folks... the first instance of modesty.