Beginning of the End?

For the first time ever, the Bug can do something better than me. I wouldn't characterize this as an official 'developmental milestone,' but it does represent a demarcation of sorts.

HelicopterIt's a weird feeling, I admit .. when a 5-year old bests you at something. (Anything.) It has left me feeling .. uh, I'm not sure. Weird.

I'm relatively new at this parenting stuff. Maybe some of you more experienced dads know what I'm talking about.

Certainly, as time progresses, the list will only grow longer .. until .. well, you know. So it's sorta like the beginning of the end. Or is it merely the end of the beginning? Or both?

What can he do? you ask. He can fly that little remote control helicopter I got him for Christmas.

We're talking bank-turns along the upper corners of the room .. where the walls meet the ceiling. Then dropping down to buzz the poor cat (Simon), before buzzing me. Look out, dad. Almost gave you a haircut.

I mean, I'm nowhere even close to being in his league. I tried. It's not easy. I keep crashing. Don't wanna break it. I sometimes watch his face while he flies. The focus, concentration. Makes him look older. More mature.

This is actually the second heli I bought. The first he took back to his mom's the day he got it. It was broke before the sun set.

I try to avoid having things he can only use here. It's your helicopter, I told him. If you wanna take it to mom's, you can. The new one he decided to leave here. (But that was his decision.) We've had it a few weeks now. Runs great.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad when he excels at anything. I've long endeavored to encourage him at whatever activities he might attempt. I try to focus on what he CAN do (.. rather than what he can't). So these feelings confuse me. Maybe mortality is the issue here.

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I told a friend (Jason, who grew-up in Australia) at the local coffee shop about my experience and he said:

My dad got mad the first time I did something better than him. We were wind-surfing. I was 13. He knew all the technical aspects better than me. But I wind-surfed better. He started shouting, "So you think you're better than me." I'll never forget it.  

I avoid harping on what he should be doing, or what he might be doing wrong. I only see him for a few days each week, so I seek to minimize any negativity associated with our limited time together.

If I had more time with the Bug, I'd probably harp more. So maybe it's a good thing that I have him so little. Mostly, I try to communicate (thru action & deed) that's he's IMPORTANT to me.

Rotary phoneMaking Kids a Priority

I remember back in high school, after my mom went back to work. She was the Program Director of some government agency that found jobs for disadvantaged youth.

She was #2 in charge of a group of 60 employees. The top guy (Larry) let her run the show. Can your mom get me a job? was a frequent query from the older kids in the neighborhood.

I remember calling mom's office after school one day .. to ask her something. She's in a meeting, her secretary said. Can I take a message?

Tell 'er her son called.

Oh, hold on, she said, putting me on hold. Few secs later, mom comes on the line. Hi honey!

I was a little surprised. Uh, they said you were in a meeting.

I am. What's up?

Mom had told her secretary to put us thru (my brother & I) .. whenever we called. (Whenever.) Now, I've long forgotten WHY I called that day. But I'll never forgot the feeling a boy gets when he knows his parents have made him a priority. It made me feel more important than the meeting.

That's the feeling I want for the Bug. And I'm willing to endure considerable hardship to see it through.

The RoadThe Road | Cormac Breaks the Rules

Speaking of enduring hardship and making sure your kids know how important they are to you (.. and the beginning of the end) .. I've been reading The Road (by Cormac McCarthy).

About a dad and his son .. enduring heartbreaking hardship in a post-apocalyptic world. Billy Bob Thorton calls it "a love story between father & son."

Wow. What a book! (Easy to see why it won a Pulitzer.) Recently made into a movie, which I heard was also very good.

The guy who gave me the book said he'd read it three times. "Here. You'll like this," he said, sliding it across the table (at the local coffee shop). I normally don't appreciate people telling me what books I will & won't like. It didn't however, take but a few paragraphs to see he was right.

Easy to relate to .. given my situation. Definitely makes my own trials & tribulations seem insignificant. So the perspective helps me cope. (The Dog however, countered by saying, Yeah, but the book is fiction.)

And this guy (Cormac) writes like nobody else. He doesn't even use real sentences. No quotation marks. Makes up his own rules (of grammer) as he goes. For him, it's obviously about the story. If you read his bio, you'll see he has never sought fame or fortune. (A true artist with the soul of a poet.) Who needs sentences?

Creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland. The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resoved into nothingness and night.

My English Comp prof (.. maybe the best prof I ever had) said, When you break the rules it either succeeds wonderfully or fails miserably. There's no in-between.

 I must admit » I found McCarthy's grammatical irreverence wonderfully validating .. since I long ago abandoned the propriety of grammatically correct sentences. Tho I still use quotation marks, cuz I feel dialogue deserves special emphasis.

But I see his point. And quotation marks have proved vexing for me, as some browsers automatically apply quotation marks to the <q> (quote) tag (which is semantically correct), while others do not. And if you add them yourself, some browsers display double sets, which is BAD.

Using grammatically incorrect sentences is more easily forgiven on the web, where brevity is valued. But in a novel .. that takes more heuvos. More guts.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » cormac mccarthy the road

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on February 7, 2010 2:07 AM.

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