This is not a place you can visit in the South Carolina Upstate. It is not a restaurant, hiking trail, roadside attraction or anything else with a South Carolina zip code. However, the events of this post occurred in the South Carolina Upstate, so that is enough qualification for me to write about them here…

 My Blog = My Rules. So, anyway…

I spent the week with my six-year-old son Ivan and it was the most rewarding week of my life. 

Most parents may not admit this but being a parent can be a royal pain in the hind parts.  From changing diapers on an infant to answering a toddler’s question “Why?” for the 4,213th time in a day sometimes requires more effort and patience than we expected to put forth. Any parent that is even remotely human loves their child and treasures the rewards of parenthood but none of us can deny the extent of which they test our limits. 

As they get older, though, something special happens… and it just happened to me this week: Ivan stopped being “something” I had to take care of and evolved into “someone” I could hang out with.

Since school is out for the summer and camps and day cares can be obscenely expensive, I had the opportunity to spend the week as a stay-at-home dad and house-husband. I still contributed to my day job on a work-from-home basis and Ivan was my sidekick/helper every step of the way. We woke up when my wife Christina did as if it were a normal school and work day and we got busy on our recipe for a more fun and productive week than I could have possibly imagined. 

We walked the dogs, ate breakfast, did laundry, cleaned the house, went to the library, made dinner, went to the recycling center, and visited a few construction sites and put together some estimates for work. We also played checkers, drew pictures, went to see live music, and played balloon baseball in the kitchen (the fact that we did not break anything was nothing less than divine intervention). 

Most importantly, we did all these things together with more smiles and laughter than I think I have ever shared during a “work week”. Also, now that I think about it, this has more to do with this blog than I previously thought.

The thing Christina and I had in mind when we first talked about “Upstate Under Your Nose” was an appreciation for all of the fun things we do and places we go that makes this corner of the state feel like “home”. Many of these things are right here, well, under our nose, but do not get the appreciation or attention we think they deserve. In that vein, life offers no greater source of love and happiness than family, especially children, and this week provided a huge reminder of that. 

Too often the routine and requirements of the daily grind lead me to set my mind on autopilot. I go through the motions, I follow the routine, and maybe I zone out on life more often than I would like to admit. This week Ivan had my undivided attention for every waking hour of an entire week and, to my surprise, I had his. He was as excited for us to have extra time together as I was and we found ways to make even the most tedious chores an experience to remember.