Monday, August 28, 2017

I told myself I was not going to cry today. Yes it was my son's first day of kindergarten, but this was the same school he attended last year, so I felt like my emotions would be in check thanks to the familiarity. Not only that, he had gotten on my nerves so damn bad earlier that morning, that I was looking forward to dropping his ass off. Even when we stepped into the classroom, the teacher asked Nyles if he wanted breakfast and he got a little spicy and said, "Well actually I already ate." My wife and I gave him disapproving looks and the teacher said, "So we say no thank you right?"..smartass kid.

Right before I walked out of the classroom I pulled Nyles to the side, and gave him the be-good-don't-embarrass-yourself-or-your-parents speech, and he kissed me, looked back at me once, and the buried himself among the other students in the classroom. The wife and I walked to the car, and I kept asking her if she was going to cry, and she said she was good. Then I walked to work and she went home, and I didn't take five steps before I started crying. It was not the ugly cry that I did when my son was first born, it was way more classy than that. My eyes filled up, a few tears actually made it down my face, and it didn't help that I was going through a mental montage of Nyles-related thoughts---starting from birth and ending with me dropping him off this morning.

When I got to work and had a chance to fully compose myself, I took a step back to really examine why I cried yet again. Part of it relates to the natural emotional investment we have in our kids--especially as they reach significant milestones. But the bigger part of that emotion is the journey. There was a time when I dropped Nyles off at daycare, and I had to carry him or closely monitor his steps so he wouldn't fall or wander off. And then when he'd get to school/daycare, he wandered around aimlessly not quite understanding how was supposed to function without the safety net of his parents around. He eventually figured it out and thrived like a champ.

Today, my son looked nothing like that shy, unsure kid. He damn near ran to the school without his parents, he knew about 10 kids in his new class, and he was ready to dive in and be a model kindergartner (minus the sassing of the teacher over breakfast). That tiny bit of growth over a 2-3 year span has made me proud and was easily enough to tip over my emotional equilibrium. And I have no regrets...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My father was in town today, and we did our usual routine of going out to lunch alone, and then we came back to my house so he could see his grandson and my wife. His hair is disappearing and significantly more gray, his glasses are thicker and it takes him like 10 minutes to back out of a parking space, but he's still mentally sharp and he looks spry for a 68 year old.

While we were sitting in my living room watching Bad 25 he noticed the commotion going on across the street where the church is located. I let him know that this was Communion weekend at the church, and all kinds of folks were in town, and more importantly, all types of food would be on sale both in and outside of the church. My dad, who doesn't eat chicken, beef or pork, asked the wife and me if they sold fried fish, and we answered in the affirmative. He looked at me and said, "We're stopping by there before I head back to my hotel."

When we stepped into the cafeteria of the church, my father made a beeline to the fried fish. He inspected it with his eyes and made the decision that it was up to snuff and good enough to eat. All he really wanted was a piece of catfish and a piece of whiting, but the ladies at the church made it crystal clear that there were two types of fish "plans". Either he got a sandwich, or a "meal" with two sides. My dad re-stated that he just wanted two pieces of fish and a bit of potato salad, and the staff nicely, but firmly told him that he had two choices: a sandwich or a meal. Dad ordered a whiting and a catfish sandwich, asked them to hold the bread, and then asked for cabbage and potato salad. Everybody laughed....

After that minor standoff, these old church ladies shifted into flirtation/caretaker mode with my dad. They said he looked too young to have a 42-year old son, they said he looked like he needed to eat more, and they added a piece of cornbread when technically he had already exceeded the side dish limit. They ended every sentence with "baby", they told my dad and I to have a bless-ed evening, and we walked out of the cafeteria.

As soon as we walked out, dad told me a story about how he used to go to his mom's church on the weekends--not because he wanted to hear the word of God--but to get him a plate of fried fish and sides to devour with his friends. He told me the church ladies managed to be polite, motherly and condescending all at the same time, and he appreciated every bit of it. Then he admitted to me that he missed his mother, but those women in the church today were the closest thing to a mother that he'd felt since she died in 2004. Neither of us shed tears, but it was definitely a tender moment.

What's the lesson here? Sometimes, you need the special TLC power of an old(er) black woman...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I believe I may have alluded to this in another blog post, but the worst part of being a parent (and to be clear, that list is quite short) is attending kiddie birthday parties. I just attended one yesterday, and it felt like I needed a saved bank of small talk to break out among these parents. The topics of discussion ranged from the summer camps our kids attended, church, the upcoming school year, etc. Half these parents were so busy have dick-measuring contests with each other, that they were barely watching their kids---which is something I make it my business to do with an eagle-eye.

Not only does the laser-like focus I have on my child and others allow me to always know what the hell my kid is up to, but it also serves as the perfect misdirection away from chatty ass parents. Yes I know that parents either feel supremely confident or woefully inadequate, and talking that shit out among other parents can be therapeutic. However, if I don't respond or participate in that, you should be able to successfully take the hint and carry your ass to another room or area. This is the social contact we have one another. You have two (three tops) topics to introduce to someone and if they aren't nodding their head, asking following-up questions, or bringing up subjects of their own, you abort the mission and find another victim. But I digress.

The way these kiddie obligations begin is via an evite, which lists all the basics: time, location, length of the party, whether or not a gift is required, and my favorite phrase, "You are welcome to drop off and come back". I never want to attend these parties, but I also am doing my best to win the parent-of-the-year award, which means I have to please my son at all times. So I always RSVP for three(me, the wife and the son) and mentally prepare myself for the torture party

Last week, I received a particularly interesting evite. Allow me to share part of what was written:

Come help us celebrate [name redacted] Birthday as she turns the big 0-5! This party will feature 1.5 hours of structured parkour play, followed by pizza and cake. Parkour (if you don't already know) is basically an obstical course just for kids. It is super fun, and non competitive.

Unfortunatly you must be 4 years old to participate- so while we are happy to have siblings come watch, and eat cake!, they can't join in unlesss they are 4. Parents must sign a waiver upon arrival, but you are welcome to drop off and come back if you'd like!

Now, I am not really the type of person to be mean-spirited for the hell of it, and I definitely don't hold it against folks when they commit an error or two in their writing. I catch errors in my current and past blog posts all the time. It happens and when they are found they must be corrected immediately.

However, if I know I am about to send out an invitation to parents of kindergarten-age kids, I think I am going to pull out all the stops to make sure this message is error free. I know for a fact that the parent who sent this invitation out has a husband and other friends, and there is no reason (aside from no one really caring) that this woman could not have said, "Hey can you read this over for me right quick?".

Instead of taking that extra step, she sent out an invite with misspelled words and misplaced punctuation. I was embarrassed for this woman and I don't even know her that well. I wanted to send an email to her to let her know, but my wife shut that down. So what will end up happening is that all the parents will be giving her the silent, judgmental eye at the party. At that point it won't matter because the parents will care more about their church, the camp their kids attended and putting in their bid for the parent-of-the-year award. But I'll be in the corner somewhere watching my kid trying to keep myself from bringing it up...