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July 17, 2003

A Good Bad Day

Today was in many respects a remarkably crappy day, easily the worst I've had for the year, and I expect it's the topper for what has been not one of my best weeks on record. The bad news hit early enough in the day that I had something of an adrenaline rush by the time I usually drive Athena off to day care, and it put me in a depressed enough mood that I realized that any chance of getting any substantive work done had pretty much gone right out the window. The prediction for the day had me sitting in front of the computer screen all day long, glowering sullenly and uselessly and occasionally repressing the urge to take a hammer to something expensive.

So I went with plan B: When Athena woke up, I told her that she wasn't going to go to school today. And then she and I spent nearly the entire day playing. We went shopping for a new computer game for her, and also bought a ball. Then we came home and played "tag ball" in which you play tag, but with a ball (it's good for hand-eye coordination. Honest). We ate fast food. We had cookies. We watched (in no particular order) Spongebob Squarepants, the Powerpuff Girls, and Courage the Cowardly Dog.

We talked about stuff: She wanted to know why there were seasons, and I told her. She wanted to know what flowers were for, so I told her. She wanted to know why it was so cold on Pluto, and I told her. I also gave her a representation of the diameter of Jupiter, using her new ball and my own body (which was, conveniently, to scale if the ball represented earth). She played with chalk while I took pictures. And I told her a lot that I loved her.

And it worked, because today was in many respects a remarkably good day. I realize that many of you parents out there don't have the option, as I have, of deciding that a particular day is going to be Screw It All And Play With Your Kid Day, but if you do have that option, you should take it (or simply call in sick). It's not a cure-all for your various problems, but it's nice to spend the day in someone else's world, especially someone whose day revolves around finding new and exciting ways to plug into what the world has to offer.

At one point in the day, Athena told me that when she grew up, she was going to play all the time. I imagine today would have been very much like a day in that life. It's a nice life to visit. I can't stay in it -- work calls, I'm too much of a grown-up to ignore it for long, and anyway I like to work -- but a day in the life is enough if it's done right. Athena and I did it right. I'm glad we did.

Posted by john at July 17, 2003 10:23 PM

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Tracked on July 18, 2003 09:17 AM

Comments

Burns! | July 18, 2003 03:02 AM

I feel like I've missed a vital part of the story, as the pic at the top blocked most of the text in the first paragraph.

Burns! | July 18, 2003 03:03 AM

You sure have a cute kid, though.

John Scalzi | July 18, 2003 07:35 AM

When that happens, resize the text on your Web page. That should fix the problem.

mark | July 18, 2003 08:43 AM

Congratulations.

No, not "congratulations". Actually, yes, that's the closest appropriate stock word, isn't it? Y'had a good day, learnt a thing or two, and widened your daughter's view of the world. All in all, congratulations are in order.

And the information that I am now dreadfully jealous.

Zeynep | July 18, 2003 10:57 AM

Whatever news it was that you got, I hope things work out soon.

And the rest of your day was really good.

And that last picture sent my biological clock off-whack. _Thank_ you.

Nance | July 18, 2003 01:25 PM

I'd like to start a Paypal campaign to throw money at you with both hands. How much would you like to start?

John Scalzi | July 18, 2003 01:45 PM

Heh. Thanks, but I need not for cash at the moment. My crisis was not monetarily related.

_Jon | July 18, 2003 03:35 PM


I know you don't mix "Personal" and "Whatever", but please fill us in when you can. We care. Collective sharing can make pain less and joy more.

John Scalzi | July 18, 2003 03:37 PM

I appreciate that. It's nothing life, career or relationship threatening, just so y'all know. Just bad news that could have been avoided with the application of intelligence, but alas was not.

Rob | July 18, 2003 06:23 PM

My best days this year were the ones when my daughter's day care closed due to snow. Summertime sick days are always so suspicious, alas.

Julie | July 18, 2003 06:26 PM

You make the best decision you can with the information you have.

That's all ya can do.

damon | July 18, 2003 07:51 PM

"Just bad news that could have been avoided with the application of intelligence, but alas was not."

Huh. Sounds like the story of my life.

Your response to the news you received was perfect, in my opinion. There's nothing quite like losing yourself for a time in the innocent world of a child; especially when that child thinks you're the greatest thing to ever happen to them.

Tripp | July 19, 2003 04:14 PM

One of the nice things about having kids is they provide an excuse for doing many childish, but fun, things.

I went to my Grandmother's funeral yesterday. She died at age 93, and had a very, very full life. The trip gave me the time to think about life, and the meaning of it.

I have no easy answers.

Jeff | July 20, 2003 11:11 AM

My own sons are now 19 and 15, and have little time for Dad. I would give anything to have them be seven and three again, for just one day.

You are so incredibly fortunate in recognizing the treasures in your life, John.

Dennis Slater | July 21, 2003 11:17 AM

My daugher is 30 now and lives 1,500 miles away. She is always close to my heart though. You will remember days like the one you had forever.

Enjoy lots of hugs from your daughter. The day you won't get another one (the same warm special loving I-love-my-daddy protect-me-from-monsters kind) is fast approaching. The good news is that those hugs will start up again about 11 years later.

I'll have to dig out a special poem my wife found for me when our special angel came into out lives and send it to you.

Here is a neat thing for little and big kids to play with: http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/applets/satellites.html. Click anywhere in the box to launch your own moon and watch the effects of gravity. Try multiple clicks. Something simple but elegant.

Lileks | July 21, 2003 03:46 PM

That sounds like a wonderful day to me. I used to have days like that all the time, but lately: zip. Tomorrow, however, my wife goes back to work, and I'm back in Dadland full time. No more office. You know what I hate about the office? No one around here runs around with their pants off just because it's summer. You know what I love about the office? See above.

Hope tomorrow's better. It usually is.

Bob Sassone | July 21, 2003 09:24 PM

Hey James, glad to hear things are better with your wife's job situation.

Melanie | July 22, 2003 03:02 PM

It sucks that you had problems, but it's also immensely cool that you spent the day playing with Athena instead of sitting around glaring at the computer screen all day. That's the mark of a truly good dad.

Maggi | July 24, 2003 01:26 PM

It was a good day for Athena, too, I'll bet. Some of my best memories of my father are the days he just called in sick to work and stayed home to hang out with me.