One a.m.. The music is loud and the club is full. Three people are crowd surfing. It’s early Monday morning in Montreal. We’ve come from dinner where the conversation ranged from non-binary gender identification to favorite scenes from High Fidelity. I’m with my sons. I couldn’t be happier.

Back in the day Harry Chapin had a song called “Cats in the Cradle”. It was the lament of a boy whose father was always too busy. I never wanted to be that dad.

I was for a while. My then young son’s best impression of me was him walking around with a little toy briefcase muttering into wood block held to his ear. I saw it first on a video taken while I was away. It was funny in an indicting sort of way.

An older friend talks about the fallacy of ‘quality time’. Life rarely enters on queue, there is no set schedule. He says it’s about quantity. Presence over performance.

I think that is true for any relationship. Non-descript average punctuated by amazing. And even that can’t be anticipated – it just happens, when it happens. The requirement is simply to show up. In my experience the being there can add up to a whole that is greater than the sum of the soccer games.

However, I hold high expectations for things. I’m not really ok with ok. But, that’s pretty much what most of life is, despite the barrage of quotes to the contrary on my Newsfeed. Normal’s getting a bad rap.

That said, every once and a while, I get rewarded. Laughter comes easy, glances and smiles are knowing, and my boys get me in on the guest list.