by Mike Todd
“Adventure time, buddy!” I said, putting on a backpack and a smile, gearing up for a rare weekday of father-son bonding. My son Evan sat on the couch without looking up, his eyes bonded to his iPad.
“Dude, ready for an adventure?” I asked, tapping his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t a realistic wax replica of my son.
“Tap, tap, tap,” his fingers replied.
Evan’s school was closed that day for a local election, the kind where both voters who show up look at the ballot and are surprised to find that people have to run for these jobs: highway superintendent, family court judge, receiver of taxes. I had no idea that the lady who receives our taxes had to run for that position. Seems to me that she’s a little too good at her job; our checks always get cashed immediately. If I were running for receiver of taxes, my slogan would be: “Vote for Mike! I get to things eventually.”
When Evan’s school randomly closes for a day, as it seems to do weekly (Columbus Day, Arbor Day, Vasco de Gama Day, Parent-Teacher Conference Day, Teacher-Netflix Me-Time Day, Cinco de Mayo, Ocho de Mayo), my wife, Kara, and I will try to find daycare for Evan, either via his old pre-school or by tackling a stray grandparent.
It’s always a scramble, though, because our society is not really set up to smoothly handle two working parents. After six years of personal experience, we’ve learned that this is just a fact of life. The sky is blue, oak trees make acorns, lunatics last longer in presidential primaries than you’d expect, and our society isn’t really set up for two working parents. Most days, things work out fine, but when your kid gets sick or school is closed, life becomes a festival of finagling.
On this election day, though, the forecast called for a sunny, 70-degree day in November, which gave me some hope that we’re finally benefiting from all this global warming. If you looked at an average temperature map from the past year, you’d see our region was the only one that was colder than usual, while the rest of the world was baking. If we’re going to get the hurricanes and the End Times anyway, we should at least get to wear T-shirts after Halloween, too.
Evan’s old daycare had already graciously offered to take him on election day, and when I started thinking about everything that had to get done at work, the thought of missing a day sent pure stress coursing through my veins. Then I thought about the forecast, and picturing Evan and me having an entire glorious Tuesday to ourselves. Then I started singing, “Cat’s in the Cradle” in my head: “…we’ll get together then, dad. You know we’ll have a good time then.” And the deal was done, vacation day taken.
“Hey, tough guy, are we going for a hike today or what?” I asked.
“Oh? You’re ready now? Let’s go!” Evan said, snapping to life and tossing the iPad aside.
The next day, at work, I had to play catch-up. A few days after that, I couldn’t remember why I’d been so stressed out the previous two days, but I still had very vivid memories of Evan romping into the woods, exploring the bottom of a cliff in a state park we’d never visited before, shining his flashlight into every nook and cranny looking for bears, scanning every rock in the vicinity for the fossils we’d been promised could be found and stopping on the way home for ice cream, even though it was really dinnertime.
We had a good time then.