FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

The Animal Magic Show

Written By: Scot Butwell - Sep• 02•12

john abrams

D and I are sitting on the library floor behind a strip of yellow plastic crime scene tape with the words, “Caution: Do Not Enter,” in bold black letters. D has done an amazing job waiting for the “Animal Magic Show” to begin for approximately twenty minutes.

He has been sitting perfectly still, no easy feat for him, but it starts feeling like the plot for Waiting for Godot, an absurdist play by British playwright Samuel Beckett where two transients wait endlessly for a third character named Godot who never shows up.

Except in our case, the librarian and magician have been standing behind the yellow tape and, no, the magician doesn’t appear about to pull a cat or chinchilla out of a hat any time soon.

The librarian stares at kids in the front row to make sure no one disturbs the yellow tape, and D earns a reprimand after his foot repeatedly kicks the tape, as if he has suddenly come down with tics from Tourette’s Syndrome.

“Please don’t kick the yellow tape,” the librarian not so nicely tells him.

I want to scream at her to start the freaking Animal Magic Show, but, of course, I don’t say anything—though I am sure other parents are having similar thoughts. Or maybe not. D’s fidgeting could just be getting to me.

“Where is the magician’s black hat?” D asks me.

As I explain that not all magicians wear a black hat like Professor Hinkle on Frosty the Snowman, D’s foot takes aim at a blond hair boy sitting next to him. Luckily, his kick misses his arm, and I pin D’s leg down with my arm.

That’s when I realize Dad Mistake #1: We arrived too early to get front row seats! Actually, we showed up a week ago (I mixed up the dates) and came back today; we’ve been sitting for thirty minutes and, cross my fingers, an hour for the Animal Magic Show.

Then, as I contemplate mistake #1, I realize Dad Mistake #2: his body is squirmy not from having difficulty regulating his body, as I presumed. He just needs to pee. We visited the restroom when we arrived, so I thought he was “okay” on that front.

But D needs to pee again–after I ask him once his leg starts shaking and kicking whatever is near in sight–and so we rush off towards the restroom.

I realize Dad mistake #3 in the bathroom: He drank too much water in the drive here which filled his bladder and may cause us to lose our front row seats. And when we return from the restroom, sure enough, our front row seats are taken, D loses interest in the show, playing instead with a shard of carpet, and I ponder how a couple of blunders can lead to the sudden demise of our trip.

I know my “mistakes” are common knowledge for moms, probably most dads too, and I’m sure in my life as a dad, I will make many more parenting mistakes along the Yellow Brick Road.

But this is what I’m learning today: I must be aware not only of my need to pee, but also monitor the level of D’s bladder, especially when sitting for any length of time will be required.

I mentally bookmark this lesson: drinking too much water = a need to pee. I know it’s not Einstein’s e = mc squared, and it’s not earth shattering, yet this is what I must learn to be successful going places with my son.

I doubt Samuel Beckett, who was married but with no kids, was thinking of parents when he said–“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”–but I found comfort in his words after our trip.

I know I am going to fail, and I must be ready to try again, fail again, and fail better, and then be willing to repeat those steps over again, to learn to be the best dad I can be for D.

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