When humor fails

Every day, when the final bell rings at Christian's school, my oldest walks one mile to the school his younger siblings attends. There he waits for a few minutes until their classes are over and I pick all three kids up in one location. Or, at least that is how it usually works in warmer weather.

I don't mind making him walk to and from school when there is snow on the ground, but I don't want him walking when the the temperatures are in the low teens or single digits. Since the last week of school before Christmas break through today and potentially into next week have been cold enough to discourage his status as a pedestrian, I have been dropping him off in the mornings. I still give him the option to walk after school but also let him know that he is free to call me if he wants me to pick him up.

Today, right on schedule, my phone rang and I saw his school's name flash onto the display. I answered.

Me: "Hey kid."
Christian: "Hi. So, um ... I was calling because ... "
Me: "You wanted to let me know you were going to walk to your brother and sister's school?"
Christian: "No."
Me: "Because you wanted to borrow my teleportation device?"
Christian: "NO!"

Like most dads I know, my goal is to be a good dad. I want my children to grow into functioning and productive members of society. I want them to know that I will be there for them whenever they need me, whether it is to celebrate their success or to support them when the road is rough.

Yet I aspire for something more. Sure I desire to be a good dad, but also wish to be a funny dad. The kind that can make my kids laugh. The kind my kids' friends think is cool even when my kids find me embarrassing. Most days I feel like a success. I enjoy my time with the kids and the smiles and laughter they bring light up my world. My oldest is unquestionably sure I could find a second career as a comedian.

Sometimes I fear, however, that my attempts to be funny are mistaken for my serious face. The moment when Christian called this afternoon to ask for a ride was one of those times where my humor and my lack of humor where indistinguishable.

Of course I knew Christian wanted me to pick him up on the way to get his siblings. I knew his intentions when he called, before I even answered the phone. I don't own a teleportation device so that comment could not have been a logical or serious suggestion. But for a bizarre few seconds, Christian thought I was completely somber. He was getting impatient with my repeated failed attempts to guess what he wanted from me.

It all turned out well. I assured him that yes, indeed, I would pick him up from school. When I arrived, I found him out front waiting for me, reading a book, lounging underneath the cold winter sun. Like this:

He said it was surprisingly comfortable.

Later tonight, he asked me if it was time for him to go to bed. I told him, "You must ask yourself, it it a good time to go to bed now? Or if now is a good time to go to bed?" That one made him laugh. My work here is done. Thank you, goodnight.

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