Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The World's Toughest Job

Book Review: Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son by Buzz Bissinger

As my own children merge into the adult world, I have become increasingly certain that the hardest thing in the world is being a parent - that is, being a "good" parent. Knowing when to guide, when to discipline, when to hold them, when to let go; it's enough to give anyone nightmares.

In Father's Day, Buzz Bissinger adds yet a new element to the waking dream that is parenthood - that of being a parent to a 'special' child. Multiply all of the uncertainty factors by 2, add a 'normal' twin brother, and you have a landscape that Bosch would envy.

While I did not agree with the author on some counts (like taking this trip in the first place!) I could certainly empathize with his situation. Taking a cross-country trip with my two kids by automobile was stressful enough; the bonding experience was excruciating at times. But being a parent means taking the bad with the good. Bissinger wanted to be closer to his son, to get to know him again as he grew into an uncertain manhood.

Father's Day captures the anxiety, turmoil, hope, and love that define what it is to be a parent. At times an enjoyable father-son travelogue, sometimes a painful experience in estrangement, it is as real as it gets in a rented minivan in the heartland of America.