A Year of Visits to Aran-Akash

“Fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man” – Frank Pittman

And that’s a car, and that’s a car, and that’s a car, and….’

One of the favourite things I re-learn every month from my son, is the wonder and sheer improbability of the world he and I share with you all. On my monthly visits, as we walk down the street (usually the same one) over and again in Catalan suburbia where he lives, there is nothing more fascinating it would appear than noticing – and crucially pointing out – cars.

That’s a car, and that’s a car‘, he says, time and again as we walk along the pavement. Sometimes in front of one, though I am not sure why that particular one, he will stop, point to the next parked vehicle and ask, ‘what’s that Papa Thomas?‘ ‘That’s a car‘, I tell him (sometimes adding the name of the colour for variety). ‘Si, si,’ he mutters and we walk on towards new, yet unexplored, stationary vehicles.

In this, he is truly my very own ‘Little Prince‘ as he reminds me every time that indeed; ‘all grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it’. And indeed why should this not be fascinating? We – adults – do tend to take for granted that just because we know this is a pavement and cars are likely to be parked along it, the very fact that the next item we encounter is also a car, and not say, an elephant, is indeed interesting.

I first, belatedly, properly picked up the relationship with my son, a little over a year ago, and began making monthly, weekend visits to the Catalan capital. At first, not knowing him, nor much about children less than a year old, I was anxious to make our visits as ‘exciting’ as possible. I would ‘plan’ excursions – as much as I was permitted – come with ideas, clear views of how I wanted the visit to pan out. I would add to this, toys, snacks and ‘fun’ things to do.

But I was being an adult, worried about boredom in the young world of my son; a place still, uncorrupted and innocent enough not to know the meaning of the word. It is true that when said row of parked cars is occasionally punctured by ‘un motuuuuu‘ (‘a motorbike’ and his absolute favourite), excitement levels do rise a notch or two. Such an event I have learned, means we will not be making much progress before a fair amount of touching has occurred.

And progress to where? Well, the fact it really doesn’t matter – there is no goal, no real purpose – has become part of the beauty of these visits. My total eight hours spent in the company of this, not even two-year old, are perhaps not surprisingly, the best of my month. However, that they have come to be also the most educational for me (who is supposed to teach whom?) has been more of a revelation on my personal journey as a father.

In my life, I have met, and continue to meet, more and more people who practise some form of yoga, or meditation. Often times these are seemingly some of the most stressed people; people truly in need of such activity (or non-activity?). I have remained puzzled how more of what they ‘learn/reach’ during these sessions does not seem to follow them beyond the confines of the dedicated time and space. They still seem stressed, unhappy.

Look up the definition of meditation and it will say something along the lines of: a practise where one uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Substitute ‘technique’ for ‘spontaneity’ or ‘love’ and you have as clear a definition my time with Aran-Akash as any I can come up with.

Ya es verdeeeeeee‘, we both shout as red man turns to green man and we are allowed to cross the street. He pulls my hand and together we run across the stripes, generally giggling. In that moment, nothing else exists, but that moment. ‘El autobuuuuuus‘, he repeats excitedly when one appears at the end of the street and he knows we get to ride it the three stops home. He loves it, and because he does, so do I.

On this, my latest visit, he is not well. But it seems he hates admitting it and giving into sickness. I ask him, ‘que tal Aran?’ (how are you?). Without hesitation through fever and tiredness the little trooper replies; ‘‘ (good – in Catalan) and I can’t help but smile. He is clearly not – , but has heard adults fire off this reply and like the sponge he is, he repeats. We sit on a step and watch a video I have made of the numbers in English – he again repeats, correctly and effortlessly. We reach ’10’; ‘again‘ he says. So we do.

With blisters in his mouth it is clear he is uncomfortable. He tells his mum he has a ‘bug in his mouth’. What beautiful, faultless child logic. He occasionally stops his walk, squats low to the pavement and tries to spit out the offending ‘creature’. Everything makes sense – it is simple and it is beautiful. He is going home to eat purée – which he tells me. I will eat purée too, I say. ‘No!’ He exclaims; ‘Not you. You can eat trout‘. Trout?! And he laughs away.

But, it took us a while to get here. In the early days, maybe understandably (I have forgiven myself) I think I focussed too much on what I lost. Then I focused too much on what I, as an adult felt we should be doing with our preciously short time. For AA, it just took time to get to know me, there was nothing else. Now, on these visits and strolls with ‘Papa Thomas’ which begin – and end – with a big cuddle, there is only the moment.

That’s a car, and that’s a car…‘ and so we wander down the street. I have a shirt I made with his photo printed on the front. Occasionally I stop, point to my stomach and ask; ‘who is that?’ ‘Aran‘, he says, instantly, every time. And soon, always too soon, but every time with a closer bond and, for me, fabulous memories, my monthly weekend of being a Dad who is present is over. Time for the long journey home. But, when I do get back, I notice I now look at cars through different eyes…

Thanks for all you have taught me so far. I look forward to so many more lessons.

Love, Papa Thomas

“Until you have a son of your own . . . you will never know the joy beyond joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honour that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be” – Kent Nerburn

~ by 2ndcupoftea on May 12, 2021.

18 Responses to “A Year of Visits to Aran-Akash”

  1. Thomas,
    Aran is super cute! Yes, children and grandchildren teach us to slow down to experience the joy in caterpillars, butterflies, clouds, and this marvelous creation. Enjoy the moments!

    • So so true… Thanks for reading and your kind words. Many hugs from France

  2. Hello Thomas,
    Your son is beautiful. I know, boys are supposed to be hansom, but some are beautiful as well. His name is lovely. I enjoyed reading your “thoughts,” as always insightful, didactic, and entertaining. Aran is at a a special age, full of wonder and innocence. Enjoy as many moments of it as you possibly can.
    Thank you for sharing time with your son with us. We think of you often and you are still our favorite. Hopefully, we will travel to Spain in the foreseeable future and enjoy your expertise once again.

    Be well,

    Chalice and Ralph Racey

    • Good evening you two. Thanks so much for reading. I will take ‘beautiful’ any day 😉 Very kind. Sending you many hugs from the French Alps – but I will be back in Spain soon. Watch this space… hasta luego… x

  3. Aran-Akash is a delight to behold. Thank you so much for sharing him with all of us, both here and on Instagram. I hope the future brings you two geographically closer. Your father/son bond already couldn’t be any closer.

    • Thanks Peggy, that is really kind. I suppose it is true that many who follow this had not really seen him yet 😉 I will be back in Spain (though the wrong end) from next month – doing all I can to get one week per month in Barcelona after that. Thanks for reading and many hugs

  4. Thomas: Carol and I loved every word of your comments on your visit with your precious son. What a gift he is to you and others that get to know him. We are still not able to get to Europe this year but want to travel with you in 2022-awaiting news of your planned trips for 2022, especially in France, Spain and other areas.

    • Helloooo Carol and Don. Always so lovely to hear from you. Yes this year looking increasingly difficult too, in terms of bookings. Hoping to bounce back in 2022 at least. I will be in Spain and hopefully have a few new tours and projects. Anything that does come up – I will post here of course. It would be great to meet in Barcelona so Aran-Akash can meet you both 😉 A million hugs…

  5. Thanks for sharing your beautiful son. So much to enjoy and so little time. Be well.
    Linda Patton.

    • Hi Linda… you are very right. Trying to come up with a way to get more of that precious time. Thanks so much for reading… hands across the pond 😉

  6. Thomas, this was such a delightful read, and, as others have said, your little guy is just gorgeous. It’s so hard to be apart from them when they are this age so it’s great that you are getting the chance to bond. Since we traveled together, I’ve had another great-niece and two great-nephews come into my life to add to the one great-niece I had back in 2016 (She just turned six!) The others are four, almost four, and two, but the pandemic has made it impossible to get together in person. I don’t know what we would do without FaceTime! I’d love to do another trip with you, too, as soon as it’s safe to travel so I’m looking forward to new details as well. Stay healthy and happy!

    • Hello Ilene… congratulations on your growing family. That’s just wonderful. Yup facetime is a saviour in these times – until we can all travel and see each other again. Not sure what is happening for my 2022 – hopefully I will be able to arrange one or two tours myself, if not through any agencies. We will meet again, I am sure… Many hugs and thanks for reading.

  7. He is such a cutie, Thomas. Thank you for sharing your parenting journey.

    • Hullloooo Erikka… when are you coming back to Spain? 😉 Thanks for reading and your sweet comment. He is a cutie 😉 Hugs…

  8. He looks like you! And you sound so happy, which is lovely to experience as we share your experience with him.

    • Thanks Karen… yes my photos of that age; like a photocopy. I am certainly not the first father, and won’t be the last to be just over the moon with everything about him… such fun to hang out with….

  9. Lovely in every way! ❤️

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