Friday, June 02, 2006

Good Magazines. Bad Attitudes.

How happy am I to have my "New Yorker" subscription once again active? I have been adrift since it ran out a few months ago. With Sandra Bullock unwilling to give it priority on our unpaid bills list, I spent the entire Spring struggling along with "Entertainment Weekly," "Vanity Fair," and, surprisingly, "J", the Bay Area Jewish weekly, which I don't remember subscribing to.

Today, my first "New Yorker" arrived, and I prepared myself to relearn all of the great lessons I'd forgotten in the past few months. Soon, with the help of Hendrick Hertzberg, I will know how to poke debate-proof holes in Republican policy. John Seabrook will show me new ways to look at middle-brow culture, and Malcolm Gladwell will bring up things I never would have otherwise noticed. I love Malcolm Gladwell. It's difficult not to love a little Canadian guy with an afro who's much smarter than you but still loves sports.

Adam Gopnick will tell me about Paris. Lillian Ross will fill me in on goings-on among families on the Upper West Side. David Remnick will reel in any outlandish thoughts I might have had about pretty much anything, and Mark Singer will expose me to eccentrics all around the country. Yes, "New Yorker," I have missed you. And now you are back. Thank you, Sandra Bullock, for bringing my magazine back home.

The Jawa and I ended his day today by arguing fiercely. Worn out and tired after a dinner with Mr. San Francisco and family, a surly Jawa greeting my request that he brush his teeth in the following manner:

a) he ignored me
b) having that fail, he made sure to give me a pop in the leg while on his way to the bathroom.

Now. If he hadn't also shaken his butt at me this morning when I asked him to get dressed, I might not have reacted with the fervor that I did. Instead of blowing the leg smack off, I GRABBED him and began a continuing lecture that did not cease until I was satisfied that he had suffered enough. And Sandra Bullock told me that the punishment I had chosen (no reading before bed) was cruel and inhumane.

I now know that what can seem like unfair punishment is really the product of a parent stretched to his limits. Frankly, I had run out of solutions. He hadn't responded to any of my reasoning, threatening, small-arms caliber punishments.

I thought the "no reading" was pretty effective. He was in there moaning about how he wished he could be a good person (like us), and how he'd never get to sleep without reading. Finally, I thought, I have broken through. I went in to re-scold him, only to get the trademarked narrowed eyes of Jawa anger.

Finally, I admitted defeat. He opened a book, though still shell-shocked. Now he is asleep, and I'm almost certain that at some point tomorrow I ask him to do something and he will ignore me.

Frankly, episodes like this leave me more angry at myself than at him. Where's the parenting manual that tells you the perfect way to teach your Jawa the consequences of bad behavior? When I was a kid, my mom chased me around and my dad sat on the edge of the bed and bored me to death. Both seemed more effective than my lame attempts at discipline.

In awhile I will go into bed. As always, I will check on the Jawa on my way. He will be sleeping, peaceful, smooth-skinned, seemingly unable to produce the chaos I know he is capable of producing. And then I will continue into my bedroom where Sandra Bullock sleeps, and crack open this week's "New Yorker." The long dark Spring is finally over.

4 Comments:

Anonymous anotherlefty said...

It always seemed that the boring you technique worked better, but I was unable to be boring.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous flush puppy said...

s.b. "sleeps"? you make that process sound so peaceful. frankly, i don't know how you can read with all that racket coming out of her.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Lefty said...

i've developed coping mechanisms after 14 years.

11:24 AM  
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