I wrote a very long story on my blog about spending quality time with my son, Nolan. It ended up being more personal than I expected.
“Hey, your mom is going to have dinner with Stephanie tonight, and I’ll be home doing nothing. So if you wanted to come over and watch a movie or something, you’re invited.”
“I may be hanging out with some friends, but if I’m not, that sounds great,” he said.
“Awesome,” I said. “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
He walked up to his apartment and I watched him. I know it’s silly, but whenever one of my kids walks away from me, whether we’re saying goodbye in an airport or train station, or even if they’re just walking to their cars from my house, I see them though this strange paternal vision that makes them look like 6 year-olds, going to their first day of school. They’re 24 and 22, now, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change for me.
I drove back to my house, running a few errands on the way, and when I got home, Nolan called me. “Hey, I’m going to see my friends, but not until later. I don’t have time to watch a movie, but do you want to play a game?”
“Yes, I would love that,” I said. “I have some really fun two player games here. Come over whenever you want.”
“Okay, I’ll be there soon.”
I hung up the phone, and thought, ”Holy. Shit.”
For years, I have struggled to close the gap between us that opened up when Nolan was a teenager and he pulled away from me. We had been so incredibly close when he was little, it hurt me a lot that he was so withdrawn from me, but I didn’t want to force a relationship on him that he didn’t want. Through it all, I continued to love him unconditionally, and I always hoped that one day he would come back to me. I always invited him to our house when we did things, and he usually declined. I’d ask him to hang out, or go for a bike ride, or play frisbee, and he wasn’t really interested. But, recently, something changed. He’s been coming over to see me more frequently, sitting with me in my house and talking with me about his life and the choices he’s making right now, asking for my advice, and closing that gap. It’s wonderful.
One thing I never thought would happen though? Gaming together. We played lots of games when he was a kid, but part of his character build during the teenager level was rejecting everything that was important to me, especially gaming.
So when he called me — didn’t text me, but called me — to ask if I wanted to play games, I was as happy as I was caught completely off-guard.
Read the whole thing at the link, if you want.