Fine Embarrassment

I’m going to congratulate myself as I doubt there is anyone else that might give me a high five for it (except for my Maria who has experienced this a different way) but I made another stride forward into dad-like territory the other day. I embarrassed the 9 year at the bus stop. The 9 year old? Maria’s son Jagger. The bus stop? The end of our driveway. The embarrassment? I dress like a guy that you warn your kids to stay away from.

Moms and dads have been embarrassing their kids since the beginning of time. Lincoln’s mom probably sent Abe to school with a diorama made of Lincoln logs. Confucius may have given his kids fortune cookies with their lunch. Nostradamus, no doubt, had kids that knew how he was going to do it. And me? Well I just wake up, take him to the end of the driveway and wait for the bus.

For myself it’s as simple as that, though for Jagger it’s a little different. Where I see myself in a winter coat with a hoodie, Jagger sees a guy that lives under an overpass smelling of gin and sweat that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a 9 year old, never mind one that has to face to the kids on the bus who think said underpass dude needs a shave among other things…and pants. I’m not, not, wearing pants mind you, but I am wearing my pajamas. I realize I’ve slept in them but they’re not overly wrinkly, all I have to do is stand in them and they cover my lower half to the ankle, so to me, they’re pants enough.

To Jagger though they are confirmation that I don’t care one iota about his emotional well being on the school bus as the kids stare out the window at the freak in the military surplus looking jacket, menacing hood and ratty sneakers topped off with the jammies that should have me, not escorting a child to the bus stop but instead living on a supervised ward waiting for meds with my pudding.

He actually asked me if I could wear something nicer. Now I have to be honest, he was incredibly diplomatic about it, being just 9 and all, as he first asked me how he looked. I said his John Cena t-shirt looked cool and his hair was well haired…or combed…or well something-ed that would get across the fact that he looked fine and could we now start moving before we miss the bus and I don’t get to nap for 45 minutes? He then said that maybe I should try, you know, to maybe, kinda look as cool and well haired as I said he looked. And could I just maybe do this for our walk to and stay at the end of the driveway?

That’s when I knew. I know I shouldn’t be high fiving myself and applying congratulatory noogies to my own noggin but at the same time I’ve passed another important test, one that puts me on par with parents all across this ball. When you have embarrassed them, just by being you, you know you’re on the right track. Hopefully Jagger will be able to step back, years from now, and realize, as I did, that moms and dads are just being mom’s and dad’s. Priorities are a touch different.

My only concern is that he’s dressed warmly, gets on the bus with everything he needs and that he gets on safely. Doing it while looking cool enough for the job isn’t high on the checklist. Plus I figure it’s our jobs to embarrass you because if we don’t then we’ve tried too hard to be cool and we have most probably stopped being ourselves. (unless you’re just inherently cool to begin with, if so, then pthppt! tongue sound effect to you).

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The Learning of the Seven

(Note: This is something I thought might make a nice kickoff for this Blog. I wrote it just over a year ago about living with my Maria and her son, Jagger. He’s close to 9 years old now and as he changes daily I realize that I could write an annual “Learning of the (fill in year #)” as my learning never stops. cheers Jagger – Love ya)

Let me start by stating that I live with a 7 year old. Let me state further that I have never lived with a 7 year old, the only experience I have with such being the one year I spent living with myself in the early seventies. It was the year Frankenberry cereal came out and I was more concerned at the time with prank phone calls and the fun poked at me on the school bus than I was in trying accommodate the none too subtle nuances of living with me or anyone else that was 7. I’m sure if I talk with my mother she would be able to tell me of the similarities between that 7 year old and the one I live with now though I’m also sure that “I wasn’t like this”. This is a phrase that I’ve actually caught myself saying by the way, in the same way that we all catch ourselves repeating parental missives that we swore never to do. Again, I’ll have to talk to mom. She’ll probably laugh.

As to the living with a 7 year old that I’ve never done? Well I’m not completely ignorant to the world of small early stage humans, it’s just that I’ve never gotten this far in their evolution. My experience came when sharing a house with my brother and sister starting in 2000 when she informed us of her impending babyness, something we weren’t aware of, her included, at the time we decided to throw our hats into the same ring, a small 3 bedroom soon to be circus in Beacon, NY. So there my brother and I sat, bachelor #1 and bachelor #2, looking down the barrel of myths, legends and outright falsehoods about pregnancy that would all prove to be true.

Without even a hint of girlfriends, never mind mom to be’s we were thrust into the world of babies. Everything babies, babies all the time, first, second and last thought babies, babies the book, babies the movie, babies the graphic novel, babies in IMAX (my god that pee stream is huge), babies are the world concerts for babies, babies rock for grandma, babies are babies u can’t touch this. And this was all before any baby was actually produced.

Eventually a baby did reach production, after a grueling 18 hours on the line and amid rumbles of a strike from the union workers: namely me. Across four hard plastic benches in the waiting room, with a newspaper over my face not hiding the early dawn and also not hiding the screams from my sister that led to a C-section, I was ready to walk off the job – that of waiting across four hard plastic benches in the waiting room with a newspaper over my face not hiding the early dawn or her screams. Then Jake came, a brand spanking new model replete with a great working engine, racing stripes and a fully functioning horn.

The next five years were a wonderment and support my contention that I’m not completely ignorant to this world of small humans, but I did regress. After getting my own place I quickly reverted back to bachelor #1 status just minus the main trapping of being a bachelor. Dating. Other than that my bachelorness went well. Benny and Shoes were happy. I fed them, rubbed their bellies, hung out in windows with them and scratched their ears. Shoes even learned how to get his own cat treats out of the cabinet and bring them to me while not knocking down the beer can pyramids on the kitchen counter, a lazy cat guys dream. All was good.

Then I met her. The best her ever. Violent regression backslide. Screeching breaks and smoking tires. Beer can pyramid tumble.

Now I live with a 7 year old. As with my first experience with my sisters’ baby product I’m getting used to a new product, one that comes with no directions or warnings, just like the first, requiring me to discover instead how to use it through trial and error and the common sense that I often don’t have. For instance trying to operate said product early in the a.m. may cause auditory damage if not managed correctly, (tarmac headgear helps, refer to directions you don’t have). Or, when trying to dress product, at least 17 different outfits should be offered to assure that at least one of them will be considered the products’ own choice, if not, be prepared for a really long morning and another tardy note. Also know that the desired breakfast may not be available, either through the dreaded immediate advertising of Nick TV or because you just forgot to buy something that you didn’t know you needed and then ran out of.

Like I said earlier, trying to remember what it was like for yourself is fruitless unless you consult mom, who finds this too entertaining, though she does offer advice amidst her giggling. The amazing thing though is that showering doesn’t always come with wet collateral damage, breakfast does happen, outfits gets picked, teeth brushing gets successful unwanted attention, lunch is made, bought or two dollared for the cafeteria, shoelace tying is finally tackled on a daily basis.

It is a slow process and I’ve only touched on mornings. You don’t even want to know, if you don’t already, what carnage the phrase ‘bed time’ causes or what it is like to live in ‘contrary land’, and you’ve probably heard the word ‘meanie’ quite a bit. But I’m living with a 7 year old for the first time and the rewards, though they may seem to be minimal to the outside observer, are huge. Bachelor #1 has this new product tying his shoes the same way he does. Give me one check on that imaginary checklist.

sjf