I would say, oh, two or three nights per week, before the lights are turned off, I lie down alongside my 10-year-old son in his bed and read him a bunch of pages from “Sweetness.”
Now, the wife and I began reading to our children well before they were old enough to walk. We’d read Todd Parr and Sandra Boyton and Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss and ToniAnn Guadagnoli and all the kiddie authors one can name. We’d stare down red caterpillars and purple butterflies and blue dinosaurs and fairies and princes and tutu-wearing cows.
Nothing, however, has given me greater pleasure than the “Sweetness” experience.
Why? Well, because I wrote the book, dug through the research—and now I’m sharing it with my loved one. I take the pages slowly, stop to explain details, skip certain passages that stretch beyond his years (I’m pretty sure Emmett doesn’t need to know about herpes). I like telling him the sagas behind the sagas—for example, how I paid a New Orleans-based reporter to send me details of the New Orleans Superdome broom closet; or why Mike Ditka threatened to spit on me. Sometimes we’ll stop to glance at YouTube videos from the time period. The Super Bowl Shuffle. Sweetness surpassing Jim Brown. On and on.
Mostly, I cherish the stillness of it all. Emmett is 10. He’s 11 in October. Eleven turns to 15, turns to 20, turns to 25 and 30 and 35. It flies past, and the days of snuggling and quiet reading won’t last. So I squeeze the time; desperately grasp it in my clutches. When we’re out running around, or attending a sporting event, or eating pizza, the minutes tend to zip past. But in bed, reading, the time ticks by just a smudge slower.
So we read “Sweetness.”