Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bumps in the Road

Parenting: sometimes it's rewarding, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's pretty easy and everything goes as planned; sometimes, it's all gone Pete Tong.

It was all sunshine and flowers Thursday night, as a very disgruntled me joined Sandra Bullock and the Jawa for the BHDS Hanukkah (get off me; there are a number of correct spellings) celebration.

If it was all sunshine and flowers, why was I so disgruntled? Because I still haven't rebounded entirely from my post-bookfair doldrums, but more because by going I was missing a perfect night of televised sports, courtesy of the NFL's Thursday Night Football package (Niners vs. Seahawks) and your own Golden State Warriors (vs. Houston). So where I would have preferred to be lying on a mound of pillows, watching my local teams, instead I was glad-handing with the other parents.

Parenting is not always easy.

Even the Wine Guy, who normally either avoids school functions or stands warily in the corner, was far more on-board with this particular event. As I should have been. And why? Because the Chanukkah (there, like that one better?) celebration would include the debut of the 4th and 5th grade band's new holiday catalogue of songs. Neither the Wine Guy nor I had ever seen our sons play with the band (his -- trumpet, mine, the oversized saxOphone), so we both should have been excited.

Instead, I obsessively checked my Treo for scores, ignoring, snubbing or being generally unpleasant to anyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with me. A few people got a brisk explanation: "I'd rather be at home watching football," but that only made me look like more of a jerk, not less of one.

After a long, overly-ambitious intro to the evening's program by the very nice and very new Head of Judaic Studies -- with ZinGal and I scoffing quietly at her inability to quiet the crowd -- the band finally set up. It took them about 45 minutes, but then the band teacher introduced them, introduced their program, and they tore into "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel."

Parenting is sometimes easy.

On cue, the saxOphones all stood and slowly unfurled their solo. The Jawa was up there in his white shirt, concentrating very seriously on the sheet music in front of him. When the solo ended, they all sat, handing the spotlight to the brass section.

From there, they segued into "Sevivon, Sov Sov Sov," and "Oh Hanukkah, Oh Chanukkah," with the competing levels of precision and adorableness you can expect from 9 and 10 year-olds barely larger than their instruments.

I leaned over to Sandra Bullock, my cheerful and perky wife, and said, "Wow, he's really into this, isn't he?"

This has not been the most stellar year for our Jawa. Fourth grade, his first experience with a male teacher, ongoing run-ins with what passes for a bully in Jewish school and an increasing tendancy to argue his point until we are forced to dole out threats and their accompanying punishments, have made this year something of a shock to both him and us.

We liked it the way it was, when Parent-Teacher conferences were more like coronations, not discussions about poor handwriting, when our child provided daily explosions of cuteness and precocity with which to recount to our friends until they lapsed into boredom-induced comas. The Jawa has hit his first bump in the road, and I'm worried that he may decide that bumps aren't really worth getting over, as long as you've got something to distract you from them, like Pokemon. Or writing in a blog.

Parenting is not always easy.

This week, the Jawa and I will be home together. He will be on Holiday Break and I will be unemployed. I'm a little nervous about how the week will go. Will we spend the entire week arguing about everything? How many times will I stand at the doorway to his room, my arsenal of reasonings, threats, negotiations and suggestions exhausted, as he continues to ignore me and continue doing whatever the heck he feels like doing? Will I completely lose it and rip his Nintendo DS out of his hands, leaving myself standing there trying to figure out how to "save" the Pokemon game he refused to stop playing all seven times I asked him?

Earlier this week, I wrote the first of what I hope to make a series of stories about all of the lousy jobs I've had during my misspent professional life. I mentioned that the 24-year-old guy I've been working with asked my what my favorite job had been, and I answered, "coaching."

Actually, being the Jawa's dad has been my favorite job. It's also the one I'm best at, or was best at, at least. He's not the only one to hit a bump in the road this year.


Anonymous flush puppy said...

We all just do the best we can, don't we? The boy and girl child and I went with Yin downtown on the bus today to take in the holiday sights and sounds. As mine tore into each other on the sidewalk, variously hitting and kicking each other, I said to Yin (6 months pregnant, mind you) "sometimes I can see the point of having just one".

How many times this week have I broken out the "Santa is watching" threat and seriously contemplated just pulling the plug on the whole thing. I read once of a woman who DID pull the plug on Xmas (I forget the offense). Ballsy.

In any case, on the way home from downtown wedged in between two carseats and unable to buckle myself in, I decided to give them another chance when they locked arms around mine and said they'd never let anything happen to me. Sneaky they are.

Looking forward to seeing you...(well, mostly they're looking forward to seeing Shack).

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Zin Gal said...

I got home in time for the 4th quarter. Who were those guys in niner uniforms, they were actually playing football!

Thank you to the Wine Guy for helping me get through the evening. Other that watching the ever-so-cute Jawa and Ms. Thing play the sax's side by side, it was an unfortunate evening out. It was, however, the reason we were there. I guess it says something about my mood that I didn't notice yours.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous the hammer said...

Kinda funny how enthused Wine Guy was on Thursday. As we drove away, he commented on how much he enjoyed the evening. Wasn't a highlight for me but the band was totally cute and I'm glad I had the video camera for once.

Scraped the ice off the car this morning, went to work, stepped on a nail in the work garage which punctured my shoe and foot and now am contemplating my upcoming lunch with Shaman and the Executive Officer. This afternoon I draft a letter to a State Senator. I'd happily trade places with you right now. Looking forward to Chanukkah, Hanukkah, Chanukah, tonight. Hope the gifty passes muster.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Drama Queen said...

Why won't my comment post?????
I agree that the classic spelling of "Hanukkah" looks the best to me, too! That CH crap has left the word open to crass mispronunciation by people pronouncing the CH blend as written.

Also, you guys were lucky Thursday night. You could at least watch your munchkins perform...I could only see Little Drummer Girl's arms, and extrapolate by the drum sounds I heard how she was doing!

Question: How many nights in a row can you eat latkes before you explode?

Happy Hanukkah from a potato-free zone!

Drama Queen

2:08 PM  
Blogger zelda said...

a few remarks from someone to whom many of this blog's readers indirectly pay almost $18,000 a year to design and implement the Jewish education of your children, BHDS-style:

1) I myself like "Chanukah" simply because it most accurately represents, in transliteration, the Hebrew spelling of the word. I am aware as a previous commenter pointed out that this particular example does prompt those who are less familiar with the holiday to pronounce the word "Cha-NEW-kuh," however I am willing to tolerate that occasional shmuck in the name of linguistic accuracy.

2. The new Hebrew/JS coordinator is Israeli and as a result places little emphasis on people being quiet when she speaks in many settings. More so in T'filla, less so in faculty meetings, believe me I've been present for both. And give her some credit, she had almost-middle-aged guys checking the scores on their Treos and discussing while she was trying to direct various tables of people how to line up in an orderly fashion to get their hash browns, oops I mean latkes.

3) Praise Jesus, saxOphone. Baruch HaShem, finally. I am so delighted that I will not even point out the one spelling error that IS present in this post. Does your blogging service not offer spell-check? 'Cuz mine does. Just an idea.

(all snarkiness=simply an act because guess what, it is vacation and i am sorry you were having a rough time)

10:36 PM  

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