Thursday, August 30, 2007

Counting Down

Today was pleasant. I slept in, called the office and pretended I know enough to second-guess an actuary, and headed off to elementary school open house day.

Contrary to AG's assertion, our school does not use a catwalk in its hiring process, but it was nice to meet my youngest's teacher. She's an ex-securities trader who changed careers a couple of years ago. She's got the enthusiasm of someone new to the job and the perspective of someone who's been around for a while. We chatted for a bit while my boy and his two buddies M. and V. roamed around the room looking at stuff and trying to act cool. I told her she needed to watch out for these hoodlums and she laughed and said she'd already been warned by their teachers from last year.

Next we went to M.'s classroom. Again, they wandered around the room while I introduced myself as M.'s other father. This seemed to confuse the nice young man who will be teaching him this year, although he struggled gamely to stay on task until I explained I was just a friend of the family.

Last, we visited V.'s teacher. V.'s a good boy, the son of immigrants, hardworking, polite, intelligent, almost a caricature of the immigrant experience. I sidled up to her.

"He seems like a nice kid, but he swears like a sailor," I said.

She snickered. V. blushed and rolled his eyes.

"He gets it from his mother," I continued. V.'s mother, a dentist, is perhaps the nicest human being I've ever met. Her son hid in the hallway for the rest of the visit.

My work here done, I took the boys out to play ball with their new Accubat, picking up my middle son and his friend on the way. I calculated recently that with what I've spent on sports registration fees and equipment over the last month, including a pair of deeply discounted Wades, I could have gone to France for a week. By myself, which only makes the loss more bitter. And it's not like I'm raising Einstein here. If' I'm lucky, I'll get a Borat out of the group.

Anyway, Coach P. has the week off and he and I took turns hurling balls at them down at the park in the hopes of making someone cry. All well and good until my oldest needed a ride to the bus to his cross-country meet. On the way I try to make small talk. A mistake with a teenager.

"Why do you have to be stupid?" he asked.

Trying to avoid provoking him right before a meet, I said, "Sorry."

"Just stop talking," he said. "Nobody wants to hear you."

I love you son.

After several hours more of abuse, tonight's soccer practice rolled around. I took my youngest and half the other kids and worked on defense with them, trying to get them to understand they can't clot around the ball.

"Look," I said, "I know it's like a delicious juicy apple, but you can't all chase it. There are lots of apples and you'll all get one during the season. If you don't stop, Coach Snag is going to cry."

One of the kids on the team is someone who I coached in baseball this year. I looked over in time to see his mother the family therapist whispering to one of the other parents. Way to go, I thought, you've already started creeping out the parents.

Oh well, so be it. I may be leaving a trail of heartbreak and social service files in my wake, but I had a good day.


Anonymous said...

Apparently everyone is still asleep after yesterday's party! Either that, or they're hiding now that Snag is back in the house.

Have a nice weekend, Snag!

Chuckles said...

Therapists are odd.