That night, I found my son sitting on my old bed in that old room, holding a stone.
“Found this by the dresser. Is this yours?”
I nodded my head, wondering how I’d missed it. I hadn’t counted them, though.
I told him the story. And after I’d unloaded all these emotions of what my father was to me and how I didn’t want that same anger and frustration for my attention from him, I tried being a father (which is really all you can do; no single man in all of history has ever been a father, only trying trying trying) by spouting a dozen or so little facts and pieces of wisdom I could. And seeing the all-too-famililar face of mixed confusion and awkwardness, I took a deep breath and remembered my meditation exercises.
I told him that joke about a Buddhist monk and his newest pupil.
“Do you get it?” I asked him after.
“It means that no one knows what they’re doing, so I guess just keep trying your best.”
“Oh. Okay,” with a smile of relief.
Seeing that he was still bobbling the stone (#9) between his hands, I asked him if he wanted to keep it.
“Don’t you want it?”