Pledge Week: A Preview of 2011

Next year this blog will be largely the same but also somewhat different.

To be sure, the “letters” I wrote about our kids will run for another six months, right up until Father’s Day, the blog’s first anniversary. No worries there.

Those upcoming entries will bring you pretty much up to date. You’ll find Michael at his first office job, getting to know the night life and mastering the art of the pushup. You’ll see Caroline come into her own as a gal about town and blossom as an aspiring singer of opera. Late in the spring, I’ll also share – at some length and in considerable detail – exactly what it is that I love so much about each of our children.

Come Father’s Day, though, these vignettes will take a new direction. Though still addressed to my kids, they will look mostly at my own life, and mostly before I became a father. I’ll recount memories of my parents, my grandparents and how I met Elvira, my wife, and much more. It will have some heavy stuff, everything from a near-divorce to heavy drinking and a suicide attempt.

In the process, this blog will get a little more “bloggy” — more guest posts, maybe even a survey, plus links and photos embedded here and there. If I’m going to do a blog at all, I figure, I might as well try to do it right.

Finally, next week will bring a new feature that any of you who are seriously interested in writing letters to your own kids – or grandkids – might consider something of a treat. Starting Jan. 1, I’ll post a weeklong, six-art series of mini-tutorials. Letters To My Kids 101 will illustrate how others might follow my example, including my top 10 tips.

Now, before the clock strikes midnight, let me now urge you one last time to “Take The Pledge” on this homepage to write letters to your kids. Make 2011 the year you invest in your past. After all, you’ll leave your children a keepsake even more precious than your wedding ring, an heirloom as valuable in its own right as your house, a tangible, heartfelt legacy for the next generation vastly superior to any insurance policy.

And as you summon memories to share, you’ll be in for a surprise. You’ll discover new truths about yourself. You’ll understand more about your life. Most rewarding, you’ll find out once and for all just how deeply you love your kids.
And soon they’ll find out, too.

P.S. – I invite all of you to contribute a guest blog, “Why I Took The Pledge” – a short essay about what you plan to tell your kids in 2011, along with your bio and a family photo. To volunteer, just e-mail me at bobbrody@hotmail.com.

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Pledge Week: How and Why I Took the Pledge

How I came to write the the journals that I gave Michael and Caroline as Christmas gifts for two years running boiled down to the simplest of natural forces in the human personality.

Guilt. I’m good at guilt. If I’m ever guilty of anything, it’s of feeling guilty.

But guilt can be good. Little motivates me toward action more powerfully than guilt. I’d never written all that much about our kids, at least nowhere near as much as I felt I should. And other than a note here and there, I’d written next to nothing directly addressing our kids. Doing the journals, I suspected, might – repeat: might – right this wrong and, in the bargain, make up for my numerous imperfections as a father.

But another factor came into play here, too.

Will.

Meaning I simply decided to do the journals. Every week I set aside an hour or so, often before breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday morning, to record a special memory. I maintained that schedule all through 2008 and 2009, never missing a week. Slowly, then, the hadwritten entries accumulated, swelling to nearly 70,000 words.

Nothing ever got done without someone simply deciding to do it. Everyone knows that. It’s easier than it sounds, of course, and harder, too. It’s how I quit cigarettes in 1977. It’s also how I’ve stuck to an exercise routine my entire adult life. It’s how the blog you’re reading now came to be.

So if keeping a journal for your kids sounds like something you would like to do, then by all means go right ahead and decide to do it. Just make up your mind without any ifs, ands or buts.
And if you get that far, take the anonymous pledge on this blog’s home page to write such “letters” to your kids. Only you will then know that your decision is now a matter of public record.

P.S. – Part 5 (a preview of this blog in 2011) will appear tomorrow.

P.S.S. – I invite all of you to contribute a guest blog, “Why I Took The Pledge” – a short essay about what you plan to tell your kids in 2011, along with your bio and a family photo. To volunteer, just e-mail me at bobbrody@hotmail.com.

Pledge Week: New Year’s Resolutions, Solved

About half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but almost all of those self-promises wind up broken, in most cases within a week. So the research shows.

Believe me, I know. Every December for decades now, I’ve made a long list of New Year’s resolutions.

For example, I vow to increase the size of my personal comfort zone, currently only two square feet, 32% smaller than the national average.

I also swear to apologize to everyone I’ve ever offended, an even longer list.

Where I generally get with these annual resolutions is precisely nowhere. Fast.

Invariably, my comfort zone actually shrinks each year, like the ratio of land to water in Venice.

The people I phone to apologize to often hang up on me before I can even say I’m sorry.

Every year, too, my resolutions grow more grandiose than practical. Last year, for instance, I vowed to get rid of all my emotional baggage. I’d accumulated so much of it, all stuffed in boxes and suitcases and duffel bags, without ever quite realizing how much space it took up in our apartment. I also promised to find out where my time goes – just track it down once and for all, see whether it’s two-timing me at a bar around the corner and with whom.

Among the few resolutions I’ve kept was actually what you might call a reverse resolution, or anti-resolution. I commited to do less of what is supposedly good for me and more of what is supposedly bad for me. I conducted this experiment in the understanding that something supposedly bad for me – a second glass of merlot, say, or a thicker-than-usual wedge of pumpkin pecan pie – might actually be quite good for me. I based this innovation on the premise that every vice, by its very nature, has its virtues – and that it’s hard to go wrong replacing some strenuous self-improvement with a little harmless self-corruption. As it turns out, I’m much better at softening my resolve than stiffening it.

But the very best resolution I made in recent years was to keep handwritten journals for our children, Michael and Caroline. (By the way, feel free to “Take The Pledge” displayed on the home page above to write letters to your kids). After all, those journals turned into the blog you’re reading now.

Now let me tell you how I did it.

P.S. — Part 4 will appear tomorrow.

P.S.S. – I invite all of you to contribute a guest blog, “Why I Took The Pledge” – a short essay about what you plan to tell your kids in 2011, along with your bio and a family photo. To volunteer, just e-mail me at bobbrody@hotmail.com.

Pledge Week: My Top 10 Reasons to Take the Pledge

Yesterday I promised to tell you why I think you should take this blog’s pledge – see the “Take The Pledge” link on my home page – to write letters to your kids in 2011.

Today I’ll be keeping my word. So let me right away give you my top 10 reasons.
1. It will make you feel good.

2. It will make your kids feel good.

3. It will make the world a better place.

Hard to beat those reasons, right?. But in case you need three more, here you go:
4. You’ll learn about yourself and your life.

5. You’ll realize just how very much you love your kids.

6. It will make the world a better place (by law I’m free to so claim twice)

Still skeptical of the benefits being offered here? In that event, let me take a crack at four more, bringing our total into the double digits:
7. The New York Times likes my letters-to-my-kids concept (http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/letters-to-my-kids/).

8. So does Woman’s Day (http://dailywd.womansday.com/blog/2010/06/daily-buzz-a-fresh-twist-on-fathers-day.html?cid=6a00d83452f37b69e2013484ae6bcc970c)

9. Ditto President Barack Obama – hence, his new book, “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters.”

10. Same goes for Dr. Alan Schlecter, who’s a member of this blog’s board of advisors. And he’s a child psychiatrist. At NYU, no less.

Granted, New Year’s resolutions can be tricky, even for the few iron-willed among us. Stop worrying. I vow to deliver some surefire tips.

P.S. – I invite all of you to contribute a guest blog, “Why I Took The Pledge” – a short essay about what you plan to tell your kids in 2011, along with your bio and a family photo. To volunteer, just e-mail me at bobbrody@hotmail.com.

P.S.S. – Part 3 will appear tomorrow.

Pledge Week: A Special Message to Readers

Here’s a New Year’s resolution for you to make in 2011.

Write letters to your kids.

That’s what this blog is all about. Letterstomykids.org is drawn from journals I wrote for our kids, Michael and Caroline, over the course of two years. Those journals started as nothing more than a New Year’s resolution in 2007.

Now, as January 1 nears, I’m calling on all you parents (and grandparents) out there to do the same. Resolve to write letters to your own kids – or journals, as the case may be.
That’s why my this blog’s home page invites you to “Take The Pledge.” Just click the link and scroll down to the pledge icon. Click again to close the ad there and click to answer the question, “Will you pledge to write letters to your kids?”

Voila! Three clicks and you’ll see your voice counted.

From today through Friday, letterstomykids.org will be holding Pledge Week. I’ll be telling you why I think you should take this pledge to write letters to your kids – what it might mean to you and your children. I’ll also share a preview of the stories and surprises you’ll discover on my blog in 2011.

So stay tuned. And please let me know what you think.

P.S. – I invite all of you to contribute a guest blog, “Why I Took The Pledge” – a short essay about what you plan to tell your kids, along with your bio and a family photo. To volunteer, just e-mail me at bobbrody@hotmail.com.

P.S.S. – Part 2 will appear tomorrow.

The Boy Who Chased Me: Part 2

Dear Michael,

And then one summer morning we went to Long Beach and raced again. It was already warm and the sand was just starting to get hot and Mom and Caroline had settled into chairs to relax, listen to music and admire the surf. Naturally I invited you to a sprinting contest and you accepted.

Now, maybe it’s just my imagination operating in retrospect, but I recall a different look on your face. Your face suggested you knew something nobody else knew.

The time for headstarts was long gone by now. The starting line was the same for both of us. We agreed on a finish line maybe 100 yards down the beach, near the breakers, where some rope lay. And as Mom and Caroline watched, I called the start and off we went.
We were neck and neck right away, and I tried to kick into a higher gear, but then you slowly pulled away, a foot ahead now, then two feet, then more. You beat me and beat me clean.

I looked at you with a smile and you smiled back and I hugged you. It was one of my happiest moments ever. Nature had taken its course, the younger generation eclipsing the older, the son surpassing the father, just as it should be, just as it’s meant to be. You were now the stronger and faster.

And it meant so much more than just running fast. It made me think you could do better than I in other respects, too. You would be smarter, too, and happier, and make more money, and be more fulfilled.

Of course we kept racing each other after that, even though the whole dynamic, our expectations, had changed. You were going to win now. We both knew that.  And it made it more fun for both of us. And every year you beat me by a wider margin, more – I’m happy to say—because you got so much faster than because I got slower.

But even now I’m pretty fast and still you kill me out there. It’s never even close and I have no prayer of ever winning again.  And that’s exactly as it should be. You’re off and running, leaving me in the dust.

Question of the day: Do you ever compete against your kids?

The Boy Who Chased Me

Dear Michael,

Ever since you could run, we’ve raced each other. I always gave you a headstart and pretended to keep it close but then of course I always won. I saw little point in ever letting you win because

I wanted you to have an incentive to try harder.

We would race wherever we went, whether parks or playgrounds or backyards or the beach. I gave you as much of a headstart as I felt sure I could make up, maybe 10 yards or 20 or more.
The only satisfaction I got from these races was the idea that I might be fueling you with a competitive spirit. At no point did I ever expect you to feel shamed or belittled.

And to your credit, you always agreed to race me, even though you knew you would always lose, and tried your best, too.

Then, of course, you got older. You went from being eight, when I could literally run circles around you, to, say, 12 or 13 or 14. You were taller and stronger and faster. I gave you less of a headstart now, and had to run a little harder, and our finishes kept getting closer.

We kept racing all over, at least a few times a year, and I kept beating you, even as you hit 15 and 16 and 17, and I reached 50. All that time, even though I took some pride in being pretty fast for my age, I was rooting for you to win.

It was getting to be that time.

P.S. – Part 2 will appear tomorrow.

Guest Blog: Dashing Through the Snow

Here’s a holiday-season guest blog from Patty Chang Anker, a mother of two adopted daughters from China with multiple special needs, a yoga teacher for kids with special needs, a public relations pro and a blogger. A former director of media relations for The New York Times, Patty blogs at FACING FORTY UPSIDE DOWN (www.upside-down-patty.blogspot.com). She takes readers boogie boarding, diving, ice skating, fishing, river rafting, and eye-to-eye with a crocodile in the wild, all while chronicling the ups and downs of daily life with humor and heart. Her daughters, G (age 9) and R (age 4) inspire her every day to face her fears the way they do.

Dear G and R,

There’s a dusting of snow on the ground, Sugar Pond is frozen, and I’m thinking about the Friday evening last winter when you begged me to take you there to play.

It was the end of a long week in a long season of worry. I was tired. The energy required to get you into snowsuits, boots, mittens, hats (with a high likelihood of little R then saying “My FACE is cold”) made the thought of popping in a DVD and baking cookies hugely appealing.

But there you were, eyes shining, in a rare moment of both wanting the same thing at the same time. Other families were going. “PLEEEASE Mom, can we go?”

How buoyant you both were, despite all the difficulties you contend with every day. My concern for you consumed me. But it shouldn’t consume you. I can’t make everything better, I thought. But I can make this wish come true.

“OK,” I said. “I’ll get the flashlight.” Jubilation! Dancing! Mom is the best!

Of course, I worried the whole way there.

“IT’SALMOSTDARKWHATIFTHEYFALLTHROUGHTHEICEWHATIFTHEROPEONTHESLEDBREAK

SWHATIFI’MNOTSTRONGENOUGHTOPULLTHEMTHROUGHTHEWOODSTHISCOULDBE

ADISASTER.”

The last time we went sledding I fell knee deep through the ice into a swamp. I had sworn I was going to keep you away from this pond. I gave myself a pep talk to change the voice in my head: The village inspected the ice…the green flags are out for skating…other parents do this…I can do this.

So off we went, through the woods, me pulling you on the sled. The two of you were delirious with delight, swishing through the snow. Meeting up with our friends at twilight, Jakey skating for the first time, taking turns shining the flashlight to try to see through the ice. Everyone marveling, “WE’RE WALKING ON THE POND! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?”

At one point you wanted to pull me in the sled. I was highly doubtful. But you got me in there, you tugged me along the ice. And I remember feeling so surprised, so carefree. I had conserved my energies that winter, doing just what needed to be done. I think I was waiting for someone to come along and lift us out of our struggles. It was you who lifted my spirits, after all.

On the way back, it’s almost dark. You sing “Dashing through the snow, in a one-MOM open sleigh…” I feel like a hero, taking you on this ride, hearing your happiness behind me and breathing it in with the cold night air. Laughing all the way.

Thank you for this memory, G and R. Such moments are fleeting and precious. You have both grown so much, you’re now 9 and 4, you may have to carry your own sleds this year. But we’ll go. I can’t wait for you to pull me on the ice.

Love,
Mom

Funny_ice

Christmas Comes Calling for Caroline

Dear Caroline,

You start to look forward to the next Christmas right around the second day of January. You’ll talk about it, about everything we’re going to do, about how much fun it will be.

All year, you’ll keep going about how soon Christmas will be here, how it will be the best Christmas ever, even better than last year. You’ll list everything you want to do, ticking off your agenda items rapidfire. And then we’ll do this, you’ll say, and then we’ll do that.

It’s great. Mom and I always get caught up in your excitement, in your spirit, even though we admittedly feel it more in, say, October, than in March. We love how much you love Christmas, every last aspect of it.

How we always go to the “Nutcracker” at Lincoln Center.

How Mom always takes you to see the tree at Rockefeller Center.

How we always have the Vilettas over on Christmas Eve.

The tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Tiffany star hovering over Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.

The window displays at Bergdorf Goodman.

The Christmas music we play.

The annual pilgrammage to the Cathedral at the Church of St. John the Divine.

The purchase and bringing home and decorating of our own Christmas tree.
The watching of Charlie Brown and “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Miracle On 34th Street” and “A Christmas Carol.”

The baking of Christmas cookies, the drinking of hot chocolate with whipped cream.
The anticipation, and opening, of presents under the tree.

Oh, yes, the whole nine yards, maybe ten. You feel Christmas in your soul. It really gladdens my heart to witness your ecstasy every year. I see it as a respect for ritual and tradition, an honoring of commitment to your family and the world.

I know you and Mom share Christmas deeply together. For Mom Christmas means everything it means to you.  It means family. It means reminders of a warm, safe past, of relatives gathered around. Everyone now gone, everyone we miss, is alive again.

It also spells a sense of continuity, that what has happened before is happening again and will keep right on happening, that life goes on, that we celebrate Christmas past and Christmas present and Christmas future all at once, that it’s really just all one long moment, and that we’re all still here together.

Big Little Sister: Part 2

Dear Caroline,

He’s too good for her, you would say of Joyce or Katrina or whoever he happened to be seeing at the time. She’s no good for him. She’s all wrong for him. I see how she looks at him and how she talks to him. No good. I see how she walks and breathes and blinks her eyes. She does nothing right. Even the stuff she does right is all wrong.

My brother is too good for her, you would say – too handsome and smart and artistic and sensitive. What does he see in her anyway? What’s wrong with boys? He should stop going out with her. What a waste of time. He can find someone better, someone I like, too.

He should get my approval first, you would say. Let me give the girl a quiz or hold an audition. It would be for his own good after all. How does he pick these girls? What is he thinking? He really should let me decide for him. I have much better taste in these matters. Trust me.

Yes, that’s what you would say about his girlfriends, or at least what you would think. None ever quite met your standards, and most never even came close. Either they had no class or forgot to say thank you or just wanted a free dinner or had the wrong eyebrows or never read a book or called at 3 in the morning or acted rude toward Mom or put on too much perfume or had a bad attitude or crossed her legs wrong or liked movies you hated.

Hey, you were just doing your job. A sister has to look out for her brother, even if it’s a little sister looking out for her big brother. You had his best interests at heart. You love him more than those girls ever might, and you always will. Those girls better watch out, now and forever.

Caroline is on the case. One wrong move and they’ll be history. You’ll see to that.

Big Little Sister

Dear Caroline,

Where is he? you would ask. He said he would be home by now. He said he would call. Why does he have to stay out so late anyway? He stays out late all the time. He promises to be home by 3, but then 3 comes and goes, and no Michael in sight. It’s hard for me to sleep with this going on. I’m actually losing sleep over this. If I’m tired tomorrow because of this, it’ll be his fault.

And so it went with you on all of those nights, those many long nights over the years, that Michael stayed out late, stayed out until 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or daybreak. You would be unable to sleep, waiting for him to call or to hear our front door opening. You would worry so.

Where is he? you would ask again and again. What is he doing? He goes out at night and leaves us here worrying about him. He lets us wonder where he went and what he’s doing and when he’ll be home and how could he do this to us.

He knows we worry about him, you would plead. Does he care? It’s impossible for me to close my eyes until he’s home. He should show some consideration for his sister here. What kind of a brother is he? The kind that goes out late and stays out late and never calls to say he’ll be home later than planned, that’s what kind. How could he do this? Because he’s out there with his friends in a bar having a good time and looking for girls, that’s how.

Friday night after Friday night, Saturday night after Saturday night, this drama wound up re-enacted, same script, same lines, same outcome. Such a good little sister you are, such a protective, fretful little sister. Ah, and then came his girlfriends. Oh, yes. And there you went again.

P.S. – Part 2 will appear tomorrow.

The Day We Argued About Movies: Part 2

Dear Michael,

How much we argued. That’s what I remember most about our walk and talk that day. The whole walk wound up being one long disagreement.

If I thought a scene in “Poltergeist” was funny, you might say you found it serious.

If you thought Arnold gave a good performance in “Terminator II,” I might saw he was better in the original.

It was as if we had actually agreed to disagree on everything.

And I had to ask myself, why must you always be so contrary. I would have loved for us to see eye to eye at least once in a while. And I grew quite frustrated – pissed off, really – and I’m pretty sure by the time we got home, the feeling was altogether mutual, and the walk turned out to be something less than an overwhelming success.

But now I realize that that day might have marked some kind of a turning point for you, and maybe, to a lesser degree, for me, too. Through the whole conversation, as you insisted on your point of view as valid – that, for example, “Superman 3” never got its due at the box office or Uma Thurmon was well cast in whichever “Batman” sequel she showed up in – you were actually making a clearcut, profound statement to me.

I am my own man, you were saying.

You can say what you want to me, you were saying, but by the same token, I can say what I want to you.

I’m establishing my identity here, whether you like it or not.

My ideas and thoughts are my own, no matter how much you disagree.

I stand independent of you, you were saying.

And now, all these years later, I can finally respect you for that freedom of spirit. I know its origins well, having long felt it myself. I have no doubt that your streak of stubbornness, harnessed right, will take you far.

The Day We Argued About Movies

Dear Michael,

You and I went for a walk one day and the whole time talked movies. You were maybe 16 or so. It was never planned that we would talk movies. I invited you to take a walk around the neighborhood and that’s just what wound up happening. Nobody planned a symposium or anything.

I was just glad you accepted my invitation in the first place. Even back then, it was pretty rare for you to do so.

Anyway, we probably talked about all the movies you always liked (and I did, too, mostly). As we crossed Queens Boulevard, you probably said something about the great stunts in “Diehard” – about, say, Bruce Willis being dragged out the window of that skyscraper or the flames shooting up the elevator shaft at him. And I probably said something about how much I liked the script – about its rich texture, say, and the believable backstory about marriage and kids.

We must have talked about all kinds of other movies, too, from “Ghostbusters” and “Superman” to “Predator” and “The Last Action Hero.” And I probably said something about my favorite movies too – “The Godfather,” “Double Indemnity,” “On The Waterfront,” “It Happened One Night.” We’ve always joked about how for you movie history extends back only about as far as “Jaws,” and I’ve tried to give you an appreciation of what went before.

And so, as we made our rounds near Forest Hills High School, near 108th Street – it was one of our longest walks together, at least an hour, maybe two – we went back and forth, scholars of cinema making our points about style and substance. And here’s what I remember most about that walk and that talk that day.

P.S. – Part 2 will appear tomorrow.

My Serious Side (Hitherto Little Known)

Dear Michael and Caroline,

Now comes a breather from these vignettes. Here are some lines, mostly serious, intended to define me, and maybe more:

· Some people just naturally know how to enjoy life. Others order salad.

· Any resemblance between perception and reality is largely a coincidence.

· Now that I’m older, it gets late earlier.

· The future always arrives unannounced.

· Nothing is as it used to be. Maybe nothing ever was.

· Girls grow up sooner than boys. Boys never really do catch up.

· You write something nobody asked you to write, send it to an editor who never asked you to send it, and cross your fingers that finds a home in front of a reader who never asked to read it.

· I crave a daily dose of beauty, however small — even, if quite feasible, a glimpse of the divine. It could be the sunset, a Walt Whitman poem or the faces of my children.

· If I belong in any category, I would term myself post-cute.

· We all carve out this groove for ourselves. And we like that groove. It’s our groove. But it’s still a groove, the same stuff repeated over and over. Life can actually get too groovy. Sometimes we feel we should change grooves, get a new groove going. And maybe we should.

· I’m too guarded. Must be on guard against that.

· I’ve lived a life narcissistic to a degree most people would find unthinkable.

· I’m optimistic, hopelessly so.

· What is a pessimist, really, but an optimist who’s deeply confused?

Riding the Hooky Express: Part 2

Dear Caroline,

But we never did it. Never played hooky. It all turned out to be just a game of make-believe, of let’s-pretend, nothing but fantasy. I had a job to do and you had to go to school.
My attitude was pretty set in stone. We each had our responsibilities to carry out, our commitments to honor, and to do otherwise might be a disservice, both to others and ourselves.

How could I let you miss a day of school, especially when you had already missed so many?

How would I explain that decision to Mom?

How could I even justify it to myself?

But as much as I might like to pat myself on the back for keeping us on the straight and narrow, I might have shown a little flexibility. I regret that now. It’s minor as regrets go, but a regret nonetheless. We should have played hooky and done some of the stuff we talked about doing.

Just once.

And then we would always be able to say to each other, “Remember that day we played hooky together?”

I would say. “Remember how I said we could and you said we should and then we actually did?”
And you would say, “Oh, yes. It was so much fun. I’ll never forget it.”

Question for readers: Any similar regrets? Please let me know.

Riding the Hooky Express

Dear Caroline,

We’re riding on the “R” train, just you and I, going from Forest Hills to Times Square. It’s a weekday morning, maybe 7 a.m. or so, you headed to school at Town Hall, me to my job on Third Avenue in the 50s.

It’s quiet on the subway, the only noise coming from the train itself, rattling and shuddering along the tracks. All the other riders are reading, staring or snoozing.

It feels good to sit next to you like this. Somehow it gives me the idea I’m performing a fatherly duty. I’m there to make sure you get to school safe. Of course you’re already – what? 16 years old? – and most kids younger than you ride the subways without parents tagging along. But those kids often go with other kids, and nobody from Forest Hills goes to your school, so you would otherwise have to head in alone.

Besides, I go to my job at about the same time, in generally the same direction anyway, so we might as well pair up. If you minded me taking you to school, I never sensed it, but maybe I missed something.

Sometimes you leaned onto my shoulder and closed your eyes as we rode along to catch a little extra sleep. Sometimes you told me about a song you liked or a restaurant you wanted to try or what our family might do that weekend. But usually you kept quiet, and if I tried to talk, you might say you’d rather just read or look out the window. No matter.

Those rides with you during your years at Town Hall always felt to me like something of a field trip, an expedition, an adventure. There we were, only the two of us, riding the rumbling train into the heart of Manhattan.

Maybe a homeless man, talking to himself, would ask us for money. Maybe some kid would come on the train with his headset playing music too loud. I felt like your bodyguard, alert to every possible threat, ready to face down any attempt to violate your sense of security.
Once in a while, as it happened, we would entertain the possibility of playing hooky, you from school and me from my job.

“Could we?” you would ask.

“We really should,” I would say.

We would imagine how we might go out for breakfast and, if it were Wednesday, catch a matinee of “Phantom.”

“Let’s do it,” you would say. “I’m serious.”

I would agree. “We really should,” I would say again. “It would be so much fun.”

We would go on about all the places we could go, maybe the American Museum of Natural History or Sephora or some Indian restaurant or the main branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue.

You would skip your classes and go the day without teachers and other students, and I would be free of meetings in windowless conference rooms and calls with clients and hours in front of a computer shooting off e-mails to every reporter and his brother.

Oh, we would stroll through the lobby of the Plaza and maybe even stop for a spot of tea with some crumpets. We would ice skate at Rockefeller Center, counting who fell down the most. We would drop in at Saks or Bergdorf or Bloomingdale’s.

In imagining our doing all this, we would get so excited, you and I, listing all the options, our voices louder, our pulses quickening. It came to feel so real, almost as if we were already doing it.

P.S. — Part 2 will appear tomorrow.