Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New World Order

When my youngest son was still quite little we signed him up for Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes. By "we" I mean the Lovely Bride. I'm a modern dad and all, mostly in the sense I don't use the belt on my kids when they lip off (which might explain why they lip off so much). Still, special daddy time has always run more toward staying up late watching movies with a lot of explosions.

"Boom, daddy!" they'd yell.

"Boom, indeed," I'd reply. "Now be quiet so I can hear Samuel L. Jackson."

Such is the yin and yang of a two-parent household. And it worked just fine until the Lovely Bride had a conflict on the night of the second to last class.

"You need to take him," she told me.

"Oh come on," I whined. "I never took the two older ones and they turned out just fine."

"Really?" she asked. "That's not what you said when they put a hole in the wall playing football in the basement. Besides, the only reason you never took them is because I did."

"How about if I watch two movies with him instead?" I asked.

"You're going," she answered.

Yes I was. When class time neared I got him dressed, packed him in the car, and headed off to do my fatherly duties. I knew the head teacher from elsewhere and we made small talk while the boy toddled off to play.

After twenty minutes or so one of the teachers led the children into another room, apparently to play some extremely rudimentary version of a sport that nobody besides a child psychologist considers a sport. The parents, who had remained behind, gathered into a circle and I started to panic. I'm the only father here, I thought. What if they start discussing lactation or something?

They didn't, of course. People described what their kids were doing, how they were developing, how things were going at home. I knew better than to describe my son's fondness for the Terminator franchise and contented myself with nodding sympathetically while the other parents talked.

Soon enough the children returned and I learned it was small group time. Hell, I thought, I made it this far. I'm golden.

Six of us retreated to a corner of the room and gathered in a circle, our children in our laps. Our particular group was being led by the teacher I knew.

"Let's go around the circle and introduce ourselves. Your name, your child's name, and your child's age."

Piece of cake, I thought. I know my name. I know his name. And he was born on . . . . Uh oh.

As the introductions worked their way around the circle I was dying inside. One simple task and I was going to screw it up. The Lovely Bride would certainly hear about it at the next class. She wouldn't say anything when she got home. I'd just get that increasingly familiar look of pity mixed with disgust.

How old is he? I asked myself. It can't be that hard. Do the math.

I was last one up. In a group of six, that's not very long.

"My name is Snag. This is Snag Jr.," I said. "He's five," I said, taking a stab at it and looking hopefully at the teacher.

She closed her eyes for a long moment and shook her head almost imperceptibly.

"Six?" I guessed. By now I was the object of intense focus by the rest of the parents, all moms, all of whom knew my son's age far better than I appeared to. Even my kid was staring at me with a strange expression.

The teacher shook her head again, eyes still closed.

"Four." I said this with certainty. I knew he wasn't three and if he was seven we'd be at baseball, not some stupid ECFE class.

The teacher gave me the smile I imagine she usually reserved for a toddler who'd recently learned the first six letters of the alphabet. "That's right," she said. "He's four."

"Sorry," I muttered.

"Is there anything else you'd like to share?" she asked.

My kid might have been only four but he was already looking at me apprehensively.

"No, I'm good," I said, grinning like a lunatic.

Mercifully, the class ended before I could do any more damage. I got home and put the kids to bed and opened a bottle of wine. The Lovely Bride arrived not long after.

"What did you do?" she asked suspiciously when I poured her a glass and started giving her a back rub.

"I don't tell you often enough how much I love you," I said.

She sighed. "It's going in his permanent record, isn't it?"


"Well, you tried," she said.

"That's because I'm a modern dad."

"Lucky us," said my Lovely Bride.


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

What if they start discussing lactation or something?

You could have asked for a demonstration and offered to comparatively taste-test....

ummm, which Samuel Jackson movie?

Snag said...

xXx. Which was also my first introduction to Vin Diesel.

Jennifer said...

I had a man in my painting class turn to me and ask me how old his middle grandson was. Of course I knew. :)

fish said...

I would have totally caved under the pressure.

I can't even remember how old I am.

Kathleen said...

as long as there is no public weeping, I consider such incidents to be victories.

Chuckles said...

Saving Private Ryan has Vin Diesel in it. Check out Pitch Black, that's a fun one but avoid the sequel.

Righteous Bubba said...

Lactation intolerance is a terrible condition. Please send me money.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Movies with asplosions.

Or zombies. I'm more flexible than Snag.

If the child is really small, rubber-suit monsters.

Brando said...

Scenes from Quentin Tarantino's BEFOULED.

SAMUEL JACKSON: How old is your child?

SNAG: What?


SNAG: What?

SJ (flipping over table and pointing gun): WHAT ain't no age, motherf---er! Now for the last g--damn time, HOW OLD IS YOUR CHILD?

SNAG: I know he's not three. And if he was seven we wouldn't be here.

SJ: Do you read the Bible, Snag? I got this little passage memorized...


JACKSON shoots SNAG in the shoulder.


JACKSON shoots SNAG in the other shoulder.


SJ: Well, look at the big brains on Snag. Correctamundo.

Snag said...

See Brando, if you could just talk to my wife for me. . . .

fish said...

That was awesome Brando. And pretty much true to my own experience.

Jennifer said...

Oh Brando- that was priceless.

Poor fathers. You have this to look forward to, Brando. :) You'll be scouring Snag's blog for fatherly advice of the do and don't do persuasion.