Got back Thursday night
After four nights on a business trip.
Took a taxi home from the airport through the
Dark streets of my city.
I came in the front door
And stood for a moment in the dimmed, quiet living room.
Then I went into my son’s room and let myself
Wake him up a little–
I couldn’t resist–
By rubbing the warm back under the shirt.
My son speaks in complete sentences
When you wake him up,
As if picking up in the middle of a conversation:
“Will you sleep down here tonight?”
“No, but I’ll check on you before I go to sleep.”
“Do I have school tomorrow?”
“Yes, tomorrow’s Friday. Go back to sleep now.”
And he does!
I hate being away from home overnight because
Yes, I miss my family,
But also because
When I’m gone on a school night,
I have to ask three or four people for help.
And I hate asking for help.
I have to ask Joe to change his schedule,
I have to ask my brother or dad to
Come over in the morning to
Get my son to the bus stop,
I have to ask a neighbor to take my son after school once or twice.
And of course I have to ask my son
To be good, don’t be sad
While I’m gone.
So many people inconvenienced,
I always think.
So I call Joe the second night and ask about my son,
“How is he?”
Expecting reports of tantrums and tears.
“He’s fine,” Joe says.
“I think it’s good for him to get some time with me.”
I get a voice mail from my brother:
“Hey it was nice to spend some time with him.
I don’t want to wake up at 6 everyday to do it,
But every once in a while,
It’s really cool.”
And the neighbor:
“Yeah, the boys played cars and it was great.”
And my boy after I got home:
In fact, particularly well-behaved.
Unaffected, it would seem
By my absence.
I’m not as important as I think.)
The fact is,
I don’t want to ask for help.
I don’t want to owe you,
Or have you balk at my nervous request.
“No, no, we’re fine. I got it,”
Has been my mantra.
If I don’t ask for help,
You don’t get the chance to help me.
It’s selfish to
Ask for help.
I need to give you the opportunity to be of service,
And give my son the opportunity to have a
It’s scary though.
What if you say no?
Well I guess I’ll find out on my next overnight trip:
The day after Halloween.
All Saints Day.
Give my brother the chance to grope for sainthood by
Waking up an hour early to come over and help get
My son to the bus stop.
You’re welcome, Doug.