I am eating a cheeseburger, sipping beer, looking at a beachside restaurant full of families and kids.
There’s a band playing. They couldn’t be any worse if they detuned their instruments and started making bodily noises over the microphone.
But the children are loving the music. Some are dancing. Others are screaming, “Look, Daddy! Daddy! Look, Daddy! Daddy!”
I love kids.
I have always wondered how people with children enjoy their lives. I look around at a table of my middle-aged friends and I am thinking of this very thing.
These people seem to have more responsibility than the rest of us civilians. I’m fact, they’re so responsible that they can’t even focus on a conversation—at least not fully.
They are too busy looking from the corners of their eyes, waiting for catastrophe, or a screaming toddler.
My friend Billy, for instance, is trying to tell a story, but his sentences are incoherent because he keeps diverting his eyes toward his kids.
“Hey,” he begins. “You remember when we were fifteen…”
Billy turns his head.
“...And there was that water tower….”
Another head turn.
“...With the Hallelujah Chorus and lima beans…”
Then he jerks his head and shouts, “PUT YOUR SISTER DOWN, RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW, I SAID! DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE! I SWEAR, I WILL WHIP YOUR SHINY LITTLE…”
My friend Nathan tells me:
“The thing about kids is, they say ‘Daddy’ about fifteen hundred times per day. It’s enough to make you nuts.”
“Yeah,” another friend says. “And I wish my kids would just let me go pee in peace.”
My friends’ wives sit at the other side of the table, rocking babies, talking. My wife is with them.
My wife and I exchange a glance. We are the only childless couple here tonight. We smile at each other.
She rolls her…