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Invisible Dad

Invisible Man sculptureBy the time you read this post I should be comfortably in the air headed toward sunny Barbados to join the female half of my family. Yesterday, I experienced a real travel nightmare that left my son and I grounded, exhausted and starving and cut our trip one day short. I'm convinced the T in travel is for terrible. If it wasn't it'd be called something else, maybe, "schmavel". If teleportation ever becomes an option in my lifetime I will be be one of the first people on line to get vaporized.

But it is what it is. Rules are rules. I'm pretty black and white on that, especially if I don't have the time to contest it, such as in an airport. Yesterday my wife and I had to split up for the sake of salvaging our reservations. Since she has family on the island, had set up the accommodations and rented the car, I opted to stay home with the boy and renew his passport. Plus, I'm the one who's cooler under fire. I know how to speak to people who annoy me without appearing annoyed and when required, I can drive like a bat out of hell. All of these traits came into play yesterday. And thankfully by 5 pm all was resolved.

But there was one major problem:

For all the posts I've written about my exploits with my son, for all my claiming my son as, "my son," for all the doctor visits, tutoring sessions and emails and phone calls made by me on his behalf, I'm as official as the bootleg purses and watches sold on the sidewalks 42nd Street (before Mayor Bloomberg).

I stayed behind to set my son up with his new passport and my name wasn't on a single sheet of paper stating that I'm his father. After passing all of the necessary documents over to the clerk at the passport office, she looked them over and then looked up at me to ask, "Who are you? There's nothing here stating that you're his father?"

That was a gut shot that hurt quite a bit.

Thankfully, my father-in-law was with us to vouch for me, but all his vouching did was keep me from getting turned away without any consideration. At the end of the day, and I literally mean the end, my wife had to verify that I was who I was. And my son wasn't exhibiting any behavior that indicated that I was holding him captive against his will.

When I first met my wife she said any man she married would have to adopt her son. Since we've been married I've started the conversation several times, but nothing has come of it. Life gets in the way. There's not enough time. Simple procrastination. These are all things that I've observed as getting in the way of this process. And as a man with no claim to him it's not like I can adopt him by myself without getting arrested. When my son entered high school, I warned my wife that my signing off on all of these documents was going to catch up with us sooner or later. Yesterday that truism came to pass.

The craziness and the red tape didn't really bother me. As I stated before, rules are rules. The goal was to get the boy on the plane so whatever it took was whatever it was going to take. Having it officially brought to my attention that I am about as official in my son's life as a wet stamp with no glue on the back bothered me tremendously.

My father always says, you learn sooner or later, hopefully sooner rather than later. Later seems to always come with higher stakes and harsher consequences. Hopefully the hoops I had to jump through yesterday while being invalidated will be the highest our stakes ever get.

Opt for sooner rather than later when it comes to the really important stuff.

Photo Credit: West Harlem Art Fund

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