It’s been painful, joyful,
scary, and wonderful that Ryan’s away at school, out of our house, and
in a place — physically and emotionally — where I can’t protect him.
I have to hope that I did my job as a parent, and when he makes
mistakes, they result in skinned knees and not broken bones. Some days are easier than others.
To say that it’s been a challenge to let go would be a massive
understatement, and I’m struggling with it even more than Anne is,
disproving once and for all the notion that biology is stronger than,
uh, not biology.
Though he’s really, really far away, and he’s got his new friends and
is taking his first uncertain steps into his adult life, it’s been
pretty easy to stay in close contact with him, thanks to instant
messaging, e-mail, and sending photos and text messages through our
I can add "playing Halo 3" to the list of ways we’ve been able to keep in touch with each other.
I was sitting in my new office (formerly known as Ryan’s bedroom)
finishing up some work last night, when Nolan called out from the living room,
"Hey Wil, Ryan wants to talk to you!"
I walked out, and saw that he wasn’t on the phone, but was playing a
private Halo 3 game with Ryan, who was connected from his friend’s dorm
at school. I grabbed the headset from Nolan, and talked with Ryan while
"So how is everything?" I said. It’s nobody’s business, but suffice to say he recently skinned his knees.
"Better," he said.
"I’m glad to hear it," I said.
"Oh shit!" He said, as Nolan beat him down.
I laughed. "I saw him sneaking up on you, but didn’t think it was fair to affect the outcome of the game."
"Oh," Ryan said, a smile in his voice, "I see how it is."
We talked for a few more minutes, our conversation regularly
interrupted when one of them scored a particularly awesome kill on the
"Well," Ryan finally said, "I hate to say it, but Nolan is clearly better at this than me."
I relayed this confession to Nolan.
"YES!" He said.
"Okay," I said to Ryan, "I have to go back to work, so I’ll talk to you
soon. I love you, and look out because Nolan is going to kill you . . .
Nolan’s rocket exploded at Ryan’s feet, launching him into a beautiful ragdoll tumble off the edge of the map.
"Dammit!" Ryan said. "Okay, I love you too and I’ll talk to you later."
I gave Nolan the headset, and headed back toward my office. I paused in
the doorway, and looked back. Though they were separated by a terrible
distance, I felt the pride a parent feels when he sees his kids drop
the sibling rivalry long enough to have fun together.
I may not have a jet pack, or a flying car, but I still think this future is pretty cool.