On Friday afternoons I watch my son while my wife works. At this point in Connor’s 14-month-old life, that usually means he spends most of the time napping on my back in a carrier while I get some work done, wash dishes, cook, etc. After I knocked out a fair bit of client work while standing with him dozing on me, he woke up from a long nap. Eventually we got to where he was roaming around and playing independently, so I decided to work on a scene in my novel.
Not just any scene, either—one of the last two scenes in the first act. They’re pretty important. Pivotal, actually. Plus I have a firm goal of Act I being fully revised and at least Chief Reader-ready before we leave for Japan in a few days. I had made good progress earlier in the day, but I still really needed to crank some words.
In the meantime, Connor toddled around the house, going from our front room to his room and back and around again. Sometimes he would chase the cat. Sometimes he would chase the dog. Sometimes he would wander around with a toy or a book. He loves books—can’t imagine where he got it from—and now often roams around with a grin and a book. Or he sits and most earnestly flips through the book he’s holding upside-down.
In the midst of these Connor toddle-wobble circuits, I reviewed and fine-tuned the material I had so far, about one-third of the scene. I started drafting the next part of the section.
A few minutes later, Connor walked out of his room again. Immediately I knew something was different.
At the Eugene library the other day, we checked out a book called Moo. Packed with photos of animals and little pull tabs and interactive segments, he quickly fell in deep toddler like with this book. He often falls in deep toddler like with books though. That’s nothing new.
What was new was that he came out of his room, holding up the Moo book with an excited, hopeful look in his eye. He can’t speak more than a few words at this point, but his eyes and face told me plenty: “Daddy, can we please read this together?”
Now, I’m a self-employed, driven, disciplined, highly motivated, precision-focused jackass. And I was in the middle of, literally, my own little world. I had a lot of writing and rewriting to do. And my little boy wants me to put down my book so I can read one of his?
But. My son will be a toddler for a very limited time. And right now, for the first time ever, he was making it clear that, more than anything in the world right now, he wanted to read this book with his daddy.
I saved my work and closed my laptop. I nestled into a chair and pulled him onto my lap. And we read the Moo book twice. He even started getting the hang of many of the tabs. We laughed, giggled and pointed at the cool farm animal photos. The entire time, my son smiled and laughed, and his eyes were as bright as I hope mine still can get.
The novel will get done. I will meet my goal for Act I. But when my son came to me, I made sure he knew I will always be the dad he can turn to and who will be there for him. I showed him he is always my higher priority.