We're sending my son to Japan this summer.
We're not doing this because he deserves it. He doesn't.
We're not doing this for his cultural edification (he's just going
to buy 'Engrish' T-shirts and play video games the entire time, we
know that). We're not sending him because it's cheap 'cause, trust
me, I could buy a modestly appointed vintage sports car with the
swag we're blowing on this.
We're sending him because up until the moment his raggedy
jeans plop down into the business class seat of that jet, we can,
and will, dangle this priceless excursion in front of him like a
40-foot-tall, diamond-encrusted, solid-gold carrot. We're doing it
because he'll do anything to remain Japan-worthy in our
And when I say "anything," I mean he'll take out the trash
after dark. In the snow. Twice.
"Hey Roon, take down the Christmas lights."
"Aw, dad, I'm in the middle of an orc
"Do you want to go to Japan?"
"You want them boxed by size or color?"
"Roon, go get those eight cases of Diet Coke out of the
"Dad, it's 3 in the morning and our lawn is crawling with
"Gimme the keys."
"Roon, climb up on the roof and wipe the snow off the
I don't even have to ask him anymore. I merely drop the
subtlest of hints.
"Who invented Nintendo?"
"What's Godzilla's favorite food?"
"Mr. Sulu is actually Korean."
And it works! This is a kid so lazy, moss makes fun of
him. He once took so long walking to school, when he got there, he
was in the next grade. But now I just serve him Ramen noodles and
he's on his feet dusting the credenza. He even comes to me with
ideas-like an eager little subcontractor. It's awesome. My house
has never been so clean. My dishwasher has never been so loaded.
The dog poop has never been so thoroughly picked up.
The truth is, I don't want him to go. I just want to stay
here in my muumuu and teach him how to tend bar and do my expenses.
I'm thinking about failing to make that final payment to the
agency. Imagine what I might accomplish! I could get that new
addition built. I could xeriscape the front yard.
I could get the laundry done.
But I can't. I genuinely want him to have the time of his
life, I do. Hell, I'm jealous.
But I can't help wondering what I'm going to hold over his
head when he's back from Japan, sprawled in his gamer throne,
jacked up on caffeine and screaming into his headset. I might as
well put a down payment on a trip to Ireland. Then, the moment he
steps foot off that plane, I'll be all, "top o' the mornin' to
you," and feeding him brisket. He'll be all, "Dad, that's awesome!"
And I'll smile, tip my green felt top hat with my shillelagh and
tell him to get started on the roof.
Christopher Garlington is a Chicago dad and the author of
the deathbychildren.com blog.
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.
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