Tony and daddy day

A cherished ritual my son and I have is our Friday routine, referred to as “Tony and daddy day.” The day starts at the same time as any other, since we’re all pretty much programmed to fly out of bed at about 5:30 to accommodate my wife’s schedule (which is, at least partly, based on her persistent fear that something, somewhere, is being done without her oversight).

Once my wife is off to do good deeds for her patients (and spread anxiety among her staff), Tony and I play for a while — this morning involved the construction of a Lego truck and a house to go with it. Both were under imminent threat of destruction from a Lego Star Wars tank.

After that, we run the dogs down by the river. There’s a jeep road that leads to an overlook with a great view of a new vineyard, where some pretty impressive local wine is being made. Most of the local winemakers specialize in Zinfandel, but this place has a more diverse range, including some nice Malbec. Not that the dogs appreciate the growing wine culture of the area, but it’s a nice addition to the usual terrorizing of jackrabbits.

Then it’s off the playground, where Tony tests his dad’s cardiac health and agility with a continuous chase up the equipment and down the slides. I shimmied up a pole this morning for the first time in years, so I think I’m still up to the challenge.

The library is a short walk across the parking lot from the playground, so off we go to get greeted like the regulars we are and pick new books to replace the batch we’re returning. We usually do a mix of two fiction and two nonfiction books, basing the nonfiction books on stumpers Tony has posed to me during the week about matters of natural science or otherwise cool stuff. (I’m not ignorant about insects! I’m just looking for teaching opportunities!) This morning we picked a book about jellyfish, because my knowledge pretty much ends at an anecdote about flipping my kayak in the Chesapeake Bay after puzzling over a warning about “sea nettles,” only to realize to my horror, as I stared up at the clusters of tendrils reaching down toward me from the surface, that “sea nettle” must be Maryland lingo for fucking nasty jellyfish.

So a jellyfish book it was.

We also do a reading lesson at the library — we’re 79 lessons through a 100-lesson phonics plan based on the Distar reading program. May I say, this is a damned effective lesson plan that already has my four-year-old more literate than some of the DMV clerks I’ve dealt with over the years.

And then it’s off to lunch at Bing’s, a local retro diner owned by an acquaintance of mine. Tony gets a hamburger, fries and a milkshake, and I pretend that I’m not going to end up eating half of the burger after my own grilled chicken sandwich.

The afternoon, after nap time, is looser than the morning ritual, but we spend the whole day together.

Kindergarten starts in August, but it’s a four-day program, so Tony and daddy day should continue until Tony is sick of chasing daddy up the monkey bars, or daddy takes a disastrously unplanned tumble.


  • akaGaGa says:

    Are you sure you want to give him to the state in August? It sounds to me like you’ve got a nice little homeschooling gig going.

  • J.D. Tuccille says:

    I’m really enjoying our routine, including the reading lessons, library trip and the like. We’ve chosen a charter kindergarten that does a four-day schedule, and it’s only half-day on those days, so we’ll really be doing a hybrid program for at least a year. I’ll continue lessons and we’ll have adventures in the afternoons and on Fridays. After a year of charter mornings and homeschool afternoons, I’ll have a better idea of my comfort level and the relative merits on the two teaching styles in Tony’s case.

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