My boys are pretty lucky. They, unlike most American families, live in an extended family home. We just barely qualify for that classification as my father lives with us. And my boys love it.
My father ended up with us through a particular set of circumstances that found him living a bachelor life as a man in his early 60′s. When we were looking to buy a bigger house 4 years ago, we decided to look for something with room for Papa. My wife and her close friend, our realtor, found our current home. The house was big enough for our growing family (my wife was pregnant with the Goon at the time) and the basement was 90% finished with a space that would be perfect for my father. So it was that Papatown was founded.
My father, a perennial ball breaker, loves to tell people that he lives in his son’s basement. Technically, this is true- but Papatown is not too shabby. He has a large den with a gas fireplace and a sliding glass door that walks out to a stone patio in that backyard. Off the den is his bedroom- which is larger than our bedroom upstairs. A small half bathroom completes Papatown. Again- not too shabby.
While I am a superhero guy, my dad is definitely a sports guy. He has never (as long as I can remember) had a favorite team in any sport but will watch the best game, match, or bout that is on. As an aspect of his sports guy identity, he is also a TV guy. Right now I believe he has a 55″ LED TV taking up most of one wall in Papatown. He’s always been one for a big TV- the bigger the better for watching whatever game is on. Papa is particular and does nothing that he does not want to do. He’s been a hard worker his whole life and can’t fault him his prerogatives now in retirement. Papa wants a massive TV to watch his games.
So it’s fascinating how Papatown has been colonized by my boys- especially the Goon, our three year old. It’s a common sight to see my father coming upstairs grumbling how the Goon has made his latest demand of Papa. In the mornings, that usually mean the Goon has eaten half of Papa’s toast and now wants his own piece- which has to be cut into four small squares. In the late afternoons, Papa’s enormous TV is probably tuned into Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel and the two of them are watching one of the Goon’s favorites. It’s not too unusual to find both Papa and the Goon asleep on the couch- head to feet, feet to head. It’s pretty sweet to see.
The Goon definitely knows that Papatown has no extradition treaty with Parentsville. On one particularly exhausting afternoon the Goon lost TV privileges. My wife, working in her office, noticed about 10 minutes later that the Goon as very quiet- always a sign of trouble. At that point she wasn’t hearing the Goon because he was camped out in distant Papatown, watching TV. When she walked downstairs and found him in mid-cartoon snuggled up to Papa, she asked him what he was doing and reminded him he that had lost TV. Goon looked up at her and said, “You said I couldn’t watch TV upstairs.” Clearly he plans to follow Uncle Chris to law school….
My father laughs away any offers to rescue him from the boys and clear them out of Papatown. He’s said more times that I can count, “They’re the reason I’m living here.” I don’t feel bad anymore about my boys spending their time in Papatown. They absolutely love Papa and when he visits Matt and Joey in Florida they wonder when he’s coming back. With our parents’ remarriages, our boys have a total of 6 loving grandparents- they’re very lucky. But having a grandparent living with them is a unique experience and their lives are richer for it.
So Happy Father’s Day to my dad, aka Papa or the Pops. We love you! (…and the Goon needs some more toast!)