Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Conversation with Connor

Amongst my throngs of children is my 8-year old son, Connor. Connor is one ambitious dude, with auspicious dreams that reach beyond society’s modest celebration of the common and mundane. In other words, you know your kid’s dream of being the next NBA poster child? Well Connor’s dream just gave your kid’s dream a wedgie.

Connor has a “workshop” out in our garage. He has managed to collect some tools, thanks to his mom, who encourages his creative energy, and some friends and neighbors that have generously donated to his cause. And by his “cause,” I of course mean “building a ship, so he can sail around the world.”

This is his singular focus. Everything revolves around “The Ship.”

Me, to Katie: “Can you believe that Abbie will be off to college in six years?”
Connor, overhearing: “Six years? Well, I won’t be here to see that, because I’ll be on my ship.”

“Connor, come in for dinner.”
“Can’t I eat out here? This ship isn’t going to build itself, you know!”

“Connor, did you finish your school work?”
“School work is for suckers who aren’t brave enough to sail!”

“Dad, we should go to In-N-Out for dinner; because once I’m on the ship, I won’t be able to eat hamburgers much.”

Often Connor’s hopes are dashed by a hard dose of reality. Like the fact that he doesn’t have any ship designs. Or enough wood. Or an ocean anywhere near the vicinity. And usually reality is pointed out by one of his parents. And sometimes, no matter how logical reality seems to you, you still feel like a Class A Butt-Munch for being the one to break it to your son. Like you took his dreams, put in a brown paper sack with some doggy doo, lit in on fire, put it on your neighbor Steve’s porch, rang the bell, and had Connor watch Steve stomp all over his dreams. And no matter how much you tried to make it look like Steve’s fault, you know the bad news came from you.

So I decided to take the opportunity to lift Connor’s spirits. An afternoon with Dad. We took a bike ride together last week and rode over to Taco Bell. (Because it was the closest fast food, and not because of our profound appreciation for diarrhea.)

Once there, we chatted a bit and I shared with him that I greatly admired all his wonderful ideas. That I thought every one of his ideas were incredible, and that I was sorry that sometimes it was difficult to make his ideas a reality – but that I would always do whatever I could to support his ideas.

Then we chatted in general about things that made us happy, things that made us nervous, etc. I asked Connor, “Is there anything that makes you embarrassed?”

“Uhm, yeah. Lots of things, actually.”

“Like what?”

“Uhm…public tooting.”

I just about fell out of my Taco Bell booth – but this time, the stomach cramps were from laughing.

“Public Tooting? Yours or somebody else’s?”


“Well…do people know it’s you?”

“Not usually.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I don’t make a face where people would know it’s me. I just kind of look around casually, like everything is normal.”

“Well, when you’re on your ship, you can toot all you want and nobody will know but the fishes.”

So scoff if you will at Connor’s vision. But someday, when you think your life is pretty great because you get season tickets to your son’s NBA games, I will be relaxing on the shores of some remote island paradise, because my son, Connor, built a ship. And we’ll scuba dive and snorkel and swim and tan and eat fresh seafood…and toot all we want, thank you very much.  See if anybody in the Staples Center appreciates you doing THAT!