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.