I finished reading the Hobbit to you a few months ago and now we’re reading the Lord of the Rings. I can’t believe you’re not bored yet but you keep insisting you want to continue. I knew you’d be able to handle the Hobbit but to my amazement you’re surviving the first half of the Fellowship of The Ring without falling asleep or asking me when something interesting is going to happen. Pages and pages of Hobbits eating, animals scampering, trees waving, Hobbits eating, resting, eating, walking….zzzzzzzzzz. (But it’s worth the wait! They just need to get to Rivendell! I’ll still be SO surprised if you make it, and not at all disappointed.)
What I told you last night is that this has been the coolest experience I’ve ever had with you–I think I said “most fun.” Aside from our daily ritual of Making Animals Talk, this has been the best bonding experience we’ve had from my perspective. I was obsessed with Tolkein as a kid, and never outgrew it. Introducing you to his world is like taking my child on a tour of the family business and watching her eyes light up at the sight of the whirring machines…
I think what I’ve fully come to terms with (and I won’t say this to your face,) is that I’m not very good with young kids. The older you get, the better I relate to you. This is in part because you’re such a fascinating and lovable person, the more time I spend with you, the more I adore you. But it’s also me.
You turn to your mother a lot to share and understand, and you don’t turn to me. I don’t blame you at all. She’s such an amazing communicator–you’re very lucky to have her as a mother, and we’re both lucky she’s in our lives to bridge the communication gap that often exists between us. I blame this gap on me. I’ve always struggled to communicate in person the way I can in writing, and what I do well, I’ve learned to do at a painfully adult level. Mom told me recently I need to keep it short and simple and I try…I really try…but I SUCK AT IT.
Tolkein spins a rich and complicated world that we both identify with, understand and love. It’s a world I know and can explain to you adeptly when you’re lost. Here’s the thing, though: we don’t experience Middle Earth in the same way or on the same level. But it’s something we do and love, together.
I’m nearly 40 but I’m only beginning to learn that intimacy isn’t about achieving some transcendent, epic, boundless connection. It’s also not just about spending time together. It’s about being present, together.