Musings

A Family Interlude

April 22, 2018

This past week, Megan and I had several visitors. My mother was here from Cincinnati, as well as my father and his wife. My sister and her partner were here from the West Coast, along with Ezra, my nephew. The break in the routine was welcome, but it also felt a little odd. We don’t entertain much. I had the opportunity to cook a big elaborate dinner for the group, which I enjoyed, since I don’t have any friends or family nearby for whom to prepare meals. There was warmth and fellowship; everyone got to meet the new dog, who acted protective of Megan and I at first, but soon enough calmed down and behaved himself. Food was consumed, and everyone spoke well of my pumpkin bread, a new recipe I’d never tried before.

They were here for a few days, and during that time we went to the Strong Museum of Play, which Ezra enjoyed. We went to a trampoline park, which he also liked, and I must say that Megan and I enjoyed it too, though we were sore for a couple of days afterward. Closing in on middle age, our bodies aren’t as flexible and durable as that of a four-and-a-half year old.

All in all, it was a nice visit, though by the time it was over, I think everyone was ready to go back to their own homes and resume their own routines. Ezra was a good barometer for that. The last day of the trip, he was fussy. He fretted and seemed irritable, and he said in his own limited vocabulary that he was done with vacation; he wanted to go home. Now he’s gone back to Berkley with Ann and Brian, and he’ll resume his California upbringing.

It was nice to see my nephew, as he is starting to develop his own personality. At his age, his vocabulary is growing, and he is learning more about the world. I’ll see him again in July, and we can continue forging our own relationship. It seems evident, though, that he is a little wary of me. It’s understandable. I’m a large physical presence, taller than either of his parents. My voice is deep, and I’m heavily tattooed. I don’t know if he finds any of that intimidating, but there’s more to it. I think that I’m not able to identify with young people very well. Not being a father myself, I’m seldom around them. When I am, I try to be as friendly as possible, but it’s hard for me to get back into the imaginative, playful frame of mind that children seem to occupy so easily. I’ve been in the adult world for too long, and it’s made me rough and cynical.

Whenever I see Ezra, who at this point is the last of the Finkelstein bloodline, it makes me think about the decision by Megan and myself not to have children. It’s not one that I’ve ever regretted, but I’m glad that my parents have a biological grandchild with whom they can play, and on whom they can lavish affection. I don’t know if I would have made a good father, or if Megan would have made a good mother, but I feel like, each time I see Ezra, that our decision is validated. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a perfectly lovely boy, energetic, full of that spark of life that makes one feel confident that there’s hope for the next generation. But at the same time, after a few days I’ve had my fill, and maybe that sounds bad to say, but it’s the truth. If Megan and I were parents, then we wouldn’t be able to ever have a significant respite from the responsibilities that Ann and Brian have shouldered. It’s nice that my sister is so engaged with being a mother. The thing about kids is that once you have them, there’s no putting them back. You have to deal with them till they turn eighteen…and beyond. I’m glad that she hasn’t regretted her decision to make such a dramatic change in her life.

As for me, I’m fine with being Uncle Steve, and I’ll see the youngster soon for the family vacation. And for now, I’ll go back to the routine, blissfully free of children, unless you count our canine baby that’s intent on digging as many holes in the lawn as he can. More soon, true believers.

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