Remembering When My Son’s Adventures Included Dad

My son, Andrew, returned this week from his first great road trip/adventure. With the summer at an end, his Ukrainian girlfriend needed to return home but, as part of her work visa, she was required to travel during her last week in America. Thus, with another couple accompanying them, Andrew and Maya traveled to Chicago, then Washington D.C., and then to New York City – all in the space of a week.

My wife was nervous while he was gone for all the reasons a mother is normally nervous when a child is traveling; I was nervous because I have made road trips like this and I know what happens on these trips.

With him safely home once again, my mind turned to some of the adventures he and I shared through the years. In particular is the following, which was originally published in the Door Reminder during the first week in October of 1998 when Andrew was approaching 5 years old.

If any of you were outside after dark on Sunday night, you probably noticed the nearly full moon, glowing down in harvest orange splendor. If you also happened to notice that the moon seemed unusually large as dusk faded into night I offer this explanation: the moon was struck with wide-eyed disbelief to see me driving north from south of the county line. Needless to say, this is an extremely rare occurrence.

The occasion was an overnight trip to Milwaukee where the three of us, along with my nephew, Taylor, my sister, Alison with her husband and three boys, my mother, and my daughter, Molly, all went to see the play Charlotte’s Web.

The weekend and the play were delightful, with the exception that Barb was sick, I was ailing, and the hotel was inundated with soccer moms, dads, and their athletic (and untiring) offspring. All of this is a story for another day.

This extended introduction, however, does serve to explain why, when faced with the prospect of returning home, unpacking the car, and settling back into home I asked my young roommate and best buddy, Andrew, what I should write about in my column this week.

His answer was prompt and unusually succinct. He matter-of-factly replied, “Our treasure hunt.” This, in turn, serves as an excellent segue into the following report of a conversation Andrew and I had one day last week as we drove out to Melanie Johnson’s day care.

Andrew turns toward me as we drive through Sister Bay and asks, “Is Melanie’s house in Sister Bay.”

“No,” I reply, “her house is in Liberty Grove.”

“Liberty Grove?” he asks, with reasonable skepticism.

“Yes. Liberty Grove is everything around Sister Bay and Ellison Bay,” I explain, opting for the simplest – and shortest – explanation.

“Is Liberty Grove in Door County?”

“Yes,” I reply, “Sister Bay, Ellison Bay, Liberty Grove and lots of other places – even Sturgeon Bay – are all in Door County.”

Andrew thinks about this a moment and then asks, “Is Door County everywhere?”

“No,” I answer, “Door County is in Wisconsin and Wisconsin is in America.” Andrew looks perplexed. “Andrew, I’ll get a map out tonight and I’ll show you where all these places are so you can understand.”

Andrew is quiet for a moment and then says, “I wish we had a boat.”

“I know you want a boat,” I reply. “A big boat, right?”

“Yeh,” Andrew says. “We could buy a boat and we could make it and then you could be the captain and I would be your son and we would go to an island.”

“You want a boat so we can explore islands?” I ask.

“Yeh. We could go to the island and follow the line to the ‘X’ and then get the treasure.”

“Oh,” I respond, as I realize how we made the jump from maps showing where we live to boats and islands. “And what would we do with the treasure when we found it?”

“We would take it home.”

“And what would we do with the treasure at home?” I ask.

“We could put it in the living room and jump in it and throw it up in the air and stuff.” Here Andrew pauses and dons his best thoughtful face. “Or maybe not,” he says.

“Why not?” I ask.

“It might break.”

“What kind of treasure breaks?” I inquire.

“Gold and jewels. They can break. They really can,” he says earnestly.

“So what will we do with the treasure then?” I ask again.

“Keep it from the bad guys,” Andrew says, this time using his best ‘mean’ face.

“Or,” he continues, “we can just leave it and go on the boat to another island to find more treasure. And you can be the captain, and I will be the little captain, and we’ll have those things what you put over your eye and look through.”

“Telescopes,” I say. “They’re also called spyglasses.”

“Yeah, some of those,” Andrew responds, excitedly. “One for you and one for me so we can see which island has the ‘X’ on it.”

“Okay,” I say, “but if we’re out looking for more treasure on different islands, who is going to keep the ‘bad guys’ away from the treasure we already have in our house?”

“Momma,” Andrew replies, as we pull to a stop in Melanie’s driveway.

Normally, with the hour becoming late and fatigue settling over my body, I would have ended this column with Andrew’s declaration of faith in Barb’s ability to fend off the ‘bad guys.’ However, before we left Milwaukee, we stopped in a toy store so the kids could pick out a treat and I thought you might like to know that Andrew and I selected a spyglass.

What can I say except that our respective imaginations complement one another quite well.