Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mom Is Away, So Dad, the Boy and Dog Can Play

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mom Is Away, So Dad, the Boy and Dog Can Play

Article excerpt

MOMENTS AFTER my wife and daughter left town Friday afternoon for a 10-day vacation, I took my son aside for a man-to-man talk.

This was difficult for me. My father was from the generation of men that did not believe in talking man-to-man with their sons. In fact, I can recall only two occasions in which my father and I engaged in such a conversation.

The first time was when my mother decided I was old enough to know the "facts of life." So she talked to my father, and then he called me into the kitchen. My mother discreetly left the room.

"Do you know what sex is?" my father asked.

"Yes sir," I replied.

"Fine," said my father. "The only thing I have to tell you, then, is a bit of advice. There are plenty of girls who will let you go to bed with them because it's a way to get you to marry them."

In those gentler times, older readers will recall, a boy who got a girl pregnant was expected to marry her.

Still, my father's words shocked me. The girls I knew didn't even want to go out with me. The notion that there were plenty of girls who might want to marry me - and especially the idea that they would "trick" me into getting them pregnant in order to marry me - seemed fantastic. Where were all these girls?

Our second conversation occurred a few years later as I prepared to go into the service.

Again, my father called me into the kitchen. He told me to sit down. He looked at me closely for a minute. And I knew that my father, who had survived the war in the Pacific, was comparing me with the men he had known. Finally, he shook his head. Still, he had to say something.

"Don't ever volunteer for anything," he said.

As far as man-to-man conversations are concerned, those were it. So I had very little first-hand experience to go on when I called my 7-year-old son into the kitchen.

Because he had never been away from his mother before, I felt a talk was in order. Even though I'm from a much more communicative generation of fathers than was my dad, I wanted to say something terse and dramatic, something that my son would always remember.

"You're going to learn that some real good food comes out of a can," I said.

I paused, dramatically, to let the words sink in. …

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