C and I went to a book reading and signing last night at Burke's Book Store in Cooper-Young. At the shop, C shuffled back to the chapter books while I was cornered by the proprietors' 14-year-old daughter who is also a C, a Ch, actually, because if any kid ever deserved an extra letter, it's Ch. She is friendly and outgoing and the word 'shy' is not in her extensive vocabulary. Ch should be a character in a book, and since her father is a prolific writer, I'm sure she will be. We talked for a while about Monty Python while C sat nearby reading, not to be bothered. My own Silent Bob.
After the reading, he and I went to Young Ave. Deli for dinner. C seemed right at home with his longish hair and classic Stax tee, sliding into a booth and slouching against the back wall as though he'd done it a thousand times before. The tattooed waitress with the metal-studded face appeared to find the silent 12 year old more intriguing than his old man with the graying, receding hair and goofy grin on his face that seemed to say, "I will not be helping a 3 year old go potty during this dinner."
Having successfully ignored the book store owners' daughter who never even acknowledged his existence, C coolly waved away the children's menu/placemat and crayons offered to him, and even remained silent when asked what he would like to drink (C, that's when I need you to speak up). I accepted that menu to let him know what his dinner choices were.
We sat there, mostly in silence, drinking our lemonade and Guinness while I looked around and he texted. There were a lot of young children at Young Ave. Deli. I fought back the urge to go to each table and announce, "I used to be you! I used to be the hip young parent introducing my toddler(s) to pub grub. I wasn't always the near-40 father who spends his days fussing after the bird feeders and puttering around his garden. And, lady, I see that homemade sandwich in the plastic baggie peeking out of the top of your purse. You're not fooling anybody, now give that kid an onion ring."
C and I did talk. We discussed books and school and plans for the summer. Having dinner out with your kid is cool, no matter their age. Or yours. And as we sat there waiting for our food, he stealthily pulled a nubby little pencil from his pocket to work his way through the children's menu maze, connect the dots and dive into the word search.
He may have finished his entire Guinness, but he's still my little boy.