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The ‘key’ to surviving a snow day February 27, 2010

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.

Seated at my desk at RIT, I’m surprised to see the next-door neighbor’s name come across my cell phone’s caller ID. It’s nearing noon on Friday, so I’m thinking this can’t be good.

“Hey, Paul, it’s Austin. I kind of have a problem.”

“Yeah, what it is?” I ask apprehensively. It hadn’t been that many hours since I left him comfortably unconscious, tucked inside his bedroom to enjoy his first New York snow day. What could have changed so radically—so quickly.

"I've never seen so much snow!"

“I went outside to shovel the sidewalk and I’ve locked myself out of the house.” Oddly my first reaction was one of pride realizing he had responded to the errand I left for him in a note that morning. But quickly that pride transitioned to concern, realizing I had no way to instruct him back inside.

I gather my things and hurry out of the office to go rescue my son. I’m mostly upset with myself for not providing Austin with an alternative way to enter the house when the inevitable lockout occurred. As I pull into the neighbor’s driveway, I can only shake my head as he walks outside looking like he simply rolled out of bed and threw on a hooded sweatshirt and moccasins (yep, no socks).

“I’ve never seen so much snow in all my life,” he says after hopping inside.

“I’ve never seen anyone dressed more inappropriately to be out in it,” I reply with feigned anger. I then proceed to apologize profusely for putting him in the situation, but by this point he’s largely unfazed.

In all, the lockout is proving a minor setback to what’s otherwise been a remarkable week for Austin. So many people have reached out to ask me, “How’s Austin doing? How’s school?” As I had described previously, the start of classes, which took place on Monday, had been the source of some anxiety. It wasn’t hard to figure out what was swirling through his mind. “Will I fit in?”

Don't you dare throw that at me...

Thankfully, by all accounts, Austin is fitting in nicely. Faculty and fellow students at Eastridge High School have proven to be welcoming—and often friendly. And what about the young ladies? Well, sounds like they’re susceptible to his Kentucky charm.

“About 95 percent of the girls told me they love my accent,” he admitted after his first day. Duh! I told him that would be the case on the very day we met in Lexington more than two months prior.

But what particularly warms my heart is to see him making friends. We both have Kollin, our neighbor and a senior at Eastridge, to thank for that. The two boys have really hit it off, and Kollin continues to

Oh, you're a dead man!

introduce many of his friends to Austin.

All of this has certainly changed the dynamics in the Stella house, as I willingly adjust my threshold for disorder. This past Wednesday evening, I couldn’t stop smiling when Kollin and his friend Kurt came over to visit. Within a short period of time, my kitchen countertop was hidden beneath a blender and various utensils, milk, peanut butter and three varieties of ice cream and surrounded by three teenaged boys making milkshakes.

They then proceeded to the basement to indulge some nostalgia—playing foosball—before attacking the PlayStation. Listening to their conversation provided me some nostalgia as well—a reminder of simpler, more carefree times. But more importantly, it overwhelms me with pride to witness Austin’s transition toward normalcy.

I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for Austin. I know it will mean more untimely phone calls in the future, and some will be much more challenging to address. But I hope most of our mishaps will become reasons for laughter as we look back on our time together.

But I probably shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself. After all, where am I going to hide that spare house key?



1. Norma Holland - February 27, 2010

This is lovely…Paul. That’s all the creativity I can muster today as I look out to my own winter wonderland (a.k.a The backyard). I can only imagine what an adjustment it is for you to make room, literally and figuratively for another person– and how their emergencies become yours. You are most fitting of the title “father”. I love you.

2. Steve Schwab - February 27, 2010

Paul, I am so proud of you. It was great spending time with you, Bec, and Bryan last night. I can’t wait to get to know Austin better. See you soon.

3. Anne M. Canale, MS - February 27, 2010

I just wrote a very eloquent post but WordPress seems to have deleted it, somehow.
Key points:
*Keep up the good work. Fatherhood–parenthood –is tough at best, but so rewarding.
*And challenging! Every single day….My 17 year old son tries me at every chance (do not even mention my daughters!). Sometimes I even cry! How about a child having chicken pox at age 17! For real!

I am so impressed by what you have done…you are amazing!
I look forward to your book!
Best regards,

4. Maureen - February 28, 2010

Paul, I love hearing the stories of you and Austin and what’s going on and how things are going with school, making new friends, etc. I can’t wait to see both of you again. You are so lucky to have each other!

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