I snatch my son's snow shovel and demolish his surprise, bellow, "This is not a 
good surprise! This is a bad surprise," and he begs, "Daddy stop, just please 
stop," as I level his creation he made just for me, because I just see the dirt 
that I told him not to dig. All morning long and afternoon, too, watching Curious 
George at the cottage, and I couldn't see until tonight the Man in the Yellow Hat 
is his model father, that personification of patience.

With dinner we watch Planet Earth; animals hunting one another. "What will happen
to the egg? If daddy bear doesn't bring them food, what will they do?" Sheepishly 
my partner answers, "Daddy bears don't stay with their cubs."

There is a universe parallel to ours where I'm a better father and another where 
I'm worse. There's an almost infinite number asteroids punctuate Earth, spill us 
into space, and nearly so many I fail to grasp his hand as gravity fails us and one 
where I cannot because I broke his arm putting on his coat.

In all the good books are messy children who don't listen, and go on adventures. 
Invincible, insolent. In the car to school I play him mixes of grown-up songs about 
toxic relationships, heartbreak & trauma, and bad people getting what they want. I 
drop him off at school some days and he won't let go. His substitute says he's a 

Jeff Blackman