Real Man is a serious guy.
I’ve known him for 28 years, and feel confident when I say Real Man is a serious guy.
But, not always.
Not if you know him…really know him.
Not if you give him a chance to collect his thoughts.
He’s not one for quick quips or fast-paced banter, but if you really care to take the time to get to know him, you’ll find out that Real Man isn’t always a serious guy and that there is a very funny side to him.
This afternoon, while searching through my email for something, I stumbled across a perfect example of this.
I leave for work fairly early in the morning, and Real Man has always been responsible for getting the kids to their daycares and schools.
This has been the routine since each of them was born, and so his morning jobs, before heading off to his own job, has always been ponytails in hair, matching the socks, finding the left shoe, remembering the Show and Tell letter of the week, and all those other things that come before you can actually leave the house for school.
And I have always been very grateful.
However, I have also always felt like I was missing out, and I always wanted to know how the morning went so that I would know the moods they had at drop-off, so I could imagine how their day was going.
So, every morning, before we had smart phones, I would shoot him an email, asking “How was the morning?”
And his response would always be either, “Fine” or “It was a rough one.”
I’d follow up with “Fine how? Were they extra cute? Did they sing songs? What are they wearing?” or “Uh-oh…did someone bite someone? Did you remember the Scholastic order I left on the counter? What toy did he/she lose so I can be consistent with the consequence after school?”
And sometimes he’d respond, but some days, by the time the second email was sent, we were both fairly ensconced in our days, and he wouldn’t have time to respond.
Inevitably, every few weeks, we’d have it out, and I’d say “You have to give me more than ‘Fine.’ I’m a writer, I’m a reader, I’m a history teacher. I NEED information!”
And we’d argue about how he didn’t have time to send me a play-by-play and if there was anything that I really needed to know, he always made sure I heard about it, one way or another.
He wasn’t wrong.
He was really good about it.
But, I’m me.
And I can’t let things go.
So, apparently, on the evening of May 21, 2007, I must have done my bi or tri-weekly haranguing for information, because, on the morning of May 22, 2007, Real Man responded to my email question of “How was the morning?” with the following reply: (Names and locations have been edited)
There was a chill in the air this morning, but it didn’t seem to affect either Monkey Girl or Monkey Boy, who were wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts. Monkey Boy, with his growing-out buzz-cut was especially vulnerable to the 50 degree air, but he didn’t seem to mind. Monkey Girl, with her abundant locks tied neatly into two pony tails had some extra insulation. After the morning ritual of wanting to sit in any seat but their own, they were clipped in where they belong. Dad then noticed garbage strewn all over the side of the lawn. “Damn raccoons” he thought to himself as he picked up the waste. In the truck the children wore sunglasses in the backseat while enjoying Billy Joel’s “All for Leyna”…their youthful naivety masking the mature undertones of the musical composition. There was a man cutting tiles on the corner, the noise piquing Monkey Boy’s interest. “Dad, I want to see the machine.” He called out. They drove by slowly as father showed son the man cutting tiles in the driveway down the street. Dad then noticed how long it had taken to clean up the garbage, and made the snap decision to drop off Monkey Girl first. Would this change in routine affect the children adversely? No, they stepped up and accepted the obstacle as if it were nothing. After pulling up to X School, where dad had gone to kindergarten as a child as well, Monkey Girl asked permission to be unclipped. She made a comment about how her loose tooth was almost down to her lip. She then proceeded to kiss her brother and father good-bye and strode up to school braver and more confidant than any other 6 year old. Although her back was to the truck, her father was sure that she was flicking her loose tooth with her tongue the entire way up to school. She must have said something cute to the man standing by the door of the gym, because he smiled at her as she passed through the gateway. Dad and Monkey Boy proceeded on to nursery school, another establishment that dad had attended as a child. They walked through the parking lot hand in hand, but at the bottom of the stairs Monkey Boy broke free and raced to open the door as he does every morning. They were greeted in the entryway by the director who said “Good morning” to both of them. Only dad replied as Monkey Boy was a little shy. They both signed Monkey Boy in “as a team” and went off to the Big room. There they were greeted by the daycare teachers who also said “Good Morning”. Once again, dad was the only voice heard as Monkey Boy buried his head in dad’s leg. Dad proceeded to hang up Monkey Boy’s bag, which contained his lunchbox. When they were saying their good-bye’s Monkey Boy gave dad a kiss and a hug and reassured him without prompting that he would say sorry to Mrs. B, Mrs. B2, and Z. This apology that he was referring to stemmed from an incident last week in which Monkey Boy was disrespectful to his teachers and threw sand at a classmate. Dad smiled, but also knew that Monkey Boy would soon be engrossed in his day and would forget the apologies. That would be OK though, as the incident is now over. Dad walked off and turned for one last wave good-bye at the door, then disappeared into the hallway.
But, on the morning of May 22, 2007, and as I read the email this afternoon, I laughed so hard I cried.
Real Man will say to me, “Sometimes, I just don’t get what you see in me.”
And I always reply “More things that I can count. But number one will always be, because you make me laugh.”
Here’s hoping someone makes all of you laugh today.