My Three (Very Different) Sons


Each of my children has different levels of loquacity and taciturnity.

Adam, 5, talks all the time, says whatever pops into his head, his thoughts are sunny, fresh and surprising. He could talk the hind legs off a donkey. I take him to the park to walk the dog, he’ll talk the whole time, almost non-stop, opinions, observations, facts both true and false (the other day it was “birds are not mammals”: I patiently explained to him that they are—and turned out to be wrong! Who knew?), questions (“Are bats the only mammals that can fly?” Yes, it turns out.)

J.J., 8, is more the quiet type. One the one hand, he inherited his father’s tormented, tempestuous artistic temperament. If he’s working on, say, a painting, if it’s going well he’s proud almost to the point of boastfulness (“Nice, painting, J.J.” “Yeah, it’s really good.”) about it.

If it’s not working, he tears it up in a fury and stomps out the room saying: “I suck!”

Chip off the old block. But he’s inherited his mother’s introspectiveness, her quietness, her habit of sometimes gazing for a long time into your eyes before answering. Also, he will sidle up to you at odd times—at bad times, frankly: when you’re really busy or freaking out or you just spilled something—to tell you something important that’s on his mind. I’ve learned that if I ever want to know what’s going on behind those big, soulful eyes, I have to drop everything, and listen.

Nicholas, 11, well—he’s becoming a PBU, Peer Based Unit, also known as pre-teen. I wouldn’t have it any other way, started my PBU phase around the same age.

But still, vis-à-vis his parents, he plays his cards pretty close to his vest, and it’s sad. The other day I bought him a Nutella-banana crepe, his favorite (sinfully delicious) and then he sat with me while I had do-it-yourself-at-your-table Korean b-b-q (my favorite)—and he spilled, he divulged all kinds of details about his daily existence.

Stuff I had no idea about, and which I won’t break his confidence by divulging here. Suffice it to say it’s a world of treachery, double-crossing, shifting loyalties. I had no idea. I held my breath. I tried not to judge, or advise (though I couldn’t help myself, what can I tell you: at one point I said: Kid, you know, your father is an advice columnist, so I can’t help but say this one thing…”) because I didn’t want it to stop. I hope he will confide in me again soon.

And while we’re on the topic, allow me to say: David Gilmour’s new book, The Film Club, captures this father-son dynamic better than any book I’ve ever read. A great portrait of a loving father who has to bite his lip not to advice or reprimand his teenage son’s errant ways, because he doesn’t want the flow of info to stop.

Check it out. Great prezzie for anyone who either is, or has, a teenage kid.

And it’s a little off topic but I cannot freaking wait to see the movie “Juno.” I hope it doesn’t disappoint. I’ve heard it’s fantastic. The woman who wrote it was a blogger. And a former stripper! The stripping doesn’t have much to do with the blogging, except I think her stage name, “Diablo Cody,” has just sort of become her name. It’s not her real name, but she goes by it all the time, if that makes any sense.