“Daddy, what’s inside gum?” and Other Questions

Another 7:00 p.m. finds me in the same place, the same white chair in Leo and Sam’s third-floor bedroom, the dusky light glowing white, Leo sucking on his finger and reaching his foot up towards the ceiling. He barely napped in the truck today while we were going to pick up Lucy, but even a five minute snooze seems to add hours to his day.

“Daddy, why can’t I chew gum in bed?” Leo asks.

It’s nearly a month since my book The Edge of Over There wandered off into the wide world, trying to find its way. Next week Maile and I are driving 20 hours to Minnesota for a book event with my friend, Steve Wiens. When a book is a month old, well, it’s a strange time, because things can start to feel a little quiet. If you’d like to host a little reading in your house, and you think you can get 15 to 20 people there, let me know. I’d love to come hang out and talk about these books of mine.

“Daddy, what’s inside gum?”

Maile’s away tonight and I got Poppy down and once Leo’s down the rest of the night will be in front of me. The older kids can take care of themselves. I’ll get a little work done, maybe play around with the next novel idea I’m working on. Do a little reading. Try not to get to bed too late because early enough Poppy will be shouting from her bed or Leo will come wandering down, needing to use the bathroom. This is the humdrum passing of a life, these quiet days, these uneventful days, and as I get older, I’ve grown to love them, these days when nothing sensational is happening, these days one month after a book release.

“Daddy, why do I have to go to bed?”

Being a writer is such an emotional yo-yo. One week, I’m on top of the world. The next week, I’m wondering if writing is worth it. Worth what? I don’t even know. But I don’t think about it very long, because then another heady day arrives. It’s a constant back-and-forth: confident, doubtful, easy, hard, encouraging, despair, determination, ambivalence. (It took me five tries to type ambivalence before spell-check gave me the all-clear.)

“Daddy, how much longer until I will wake up?”

It’s a good life. Even with all the questions. Maybe because of all the questions. Leo’s. Mine. All of them. Leaning into the questions, the doubts, the wonderings, the curiosities, for me, makes life interesting.

This is Leo when he was much younger, shortly after I gave him the haircut that landed me in serious hot water with Maile. His hair is long again, and all is right with the world.