Thursdays have been known as men’s night in our house. It is the night my wife works and I take care of the boys. It has changed as the boys have changed. Tonight,Jay my younger son and me packed up his Wiggles back pack, put on his rubber boots, and grabbed his Sponge Bob umbrella and walked to the garage. I brought the enormous black golf umbrella that I picked up once in a desperate attempt to walk several miles in the rain to teach a class.
Once in the van, we played a homemade CD, entitled, “Cat or No Cat.” We have been on a search for the perfect cat. As I write, we are still cat less. The CD however has nothing to do with cats, it’s simply a collection of stories that we listen to on our many short trips. By the time, we arrived at Ryan’s school, we were in the middle of “Strega Nona.” And by now, Big Anthony is in big trouble because he touched the “pasta pot.” We walked through a very windy rain storm to pick up Ry.He was initially glad to see us, but somewhat disappointed that we did not have an umbrella for him.
We negotiated the car ride with stories about his day in kindergarten. I usually do my best to get anything I can from him after school. It is really a gamble. Very often, he just wants to check out. But today, he clued me in on who caused trouble in school. The rain didn’t stop and we had about 1.5 hours till his “Hot Shots” sports class. So instead of trying to rise above the situation, I simply suggested we eat at IHOP.
Is it me or does it feel like that restaurant has some type of feeder system, where they recruit men from really, really small towns and promises them a great life in the city. I imagine it would be called, “IHOP male employee trafficking.” The guys are always friendly, somewhat odd in their presentation, gay-maybe, but probably a long way from coming to terms with that.
Anyway, we kept the order simple. I said kids menu, 5 silver dollar pancakes and two chocolate milks. This was followed by Ry asking for an orange juice and Jay following up with the same request. For some reason, at those moments, where they feel entitled to order without checking with me, I just feel my inner father feeling like I should be shutting them down for “insubordination!!” It’s just not something I could picture doing with my own father.
Ry then quickly tackles one of those start here and go through this maze and end up here games. Jay carefully took off one layer after another of clothing to get maximum comfort. I ordered decaf, and again, like a page out of the past, they bring my a brown carafe with a black spout for endless cups. When the pancakes came, I put some butter on Jays pancake and cut it up. At that point, he scolded me for doing so, pointing out that he did not want it cut up. This was followed by me eating his pancake. Now we are down to four pancakes.
Ry has his cut up and decided to sample the syrups: strawberry-good, boysenberry-very good, pecan-no way. Observing this, J begins his taste taste as well. “Mmmmmmmmmyummmmmmmy,” says Jay. As for me, I was happy that we finished the food. It must be my inner mother, because she is big on not wasting food. At this point, I usually go into my frustration at leaving behind so much Pizza Hut pizza at Co Co Key Waterpark. Granted, I didn’t like the pizza, but I hated that we left behind so much.
As I get out the money to pay the waiter, Ry asks if he could pay him. The bill is just under $10.00, so I give him $15.00, not mentioning that I wanted singles back for a tip. So Ry finds him, pays him, and comes back with a 5 and change. I send him back for the five singles, leave a tip, which Jay tries to snatch. I make a half hearted attempt to tell him what a tip is, pile on our clothes, and race to the van. And we still have time to kill, so we zip over to Old Navy across the street.
We walk past the men’s section, the 40% off signs, and past the young girls to the boys section. Ry eyes some jersey’s and shorts he’d like. Of course, I’m drawn to the ones on sale, he’s interested in the more expensive shorts and shirts. I had promised a jersey for him and J. So J and I looked in the 3T section without much luck. Ry was trying to steer Jay towards a t-shirt that said, “Mom’s Wise Guy.” But he was most interested in flip – flops. He wanted a plain blue pair, but for some reason, I kept wondering if he’d want something funkier.
Ry then came over with a grey hoodie with a repeating black zig–zag pattern. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I liked that he liked it. He had on size XS, I thought he should try on an S, so I grabbed one that turned out to be a M on a S hanger. Once he had this baggy thing on, he immediately went into this break dance/hip hop kind of motions. It really made me laugh. And he knew it and continued to milk it. The only thing missing was some really large bling.
Once we arrived at HotShots, Jay insisted on putting on his shorts and sneakers, even though we were going to spend our time reading on the bleachers. I do like the few minutes before class where everyone gets to run around the gym with soccer, basketballs and footballs. Mathew another 6 year old seems to really enjoy Jay and engages him in tag. Ry tries to heave the ball into the regulation basket. Others are trapping balls, and running. It’s great.
Coach Nick blows the whistle. They go to the center, begin warm ups. Today’s class is basketball. Some soccer guys are disappointed, but not Ry. He runs quickly and wins most of the relays. He is called upon by Coach to demonstrate the bounce, overhead, and chest pass. I’m aware of how terrified I would have been to be put in that situation. Yet he seems to know he belongs there. He is a listener. He’s quick. Dribble with your right hand,done: left hand; done;bend the knee, shoot, run to the next basket, done. Ry ends by telling the coach where he can get a similar hoodie if he likes.
We continue listening to Strega Nona, went to the grocery store, got some Boboli, and the boys fought over who should carry the 4 pack of water. Jay did it till it fell, then Ry picked it up. I opted for the old wait in line grocery line, even though Ry was hoping we’d do the “do it yourself” check out.
We huddled under the umbrella, made it to the “HondeOddy” as we call our van, only to realize that the door had been left open because J’s seat belt got tangled. And as we entered, Ry wanted to sit in the very back and of course,Jay then wanted to do this too. At this, I was annoyed. I had to reach over the fallen books, and try to find the seat belts we never use in the back of the van. But once in, wipers going, we slowly dragged past the new “Whole Foods,” and listened to the story “Stripes.”
Once home, Jay went downstairs where his grandmother lives. Ry and I made pizza and hung out. I sensed he was really happy it was just the two of us. He began doing these silly dances that each of his friends do. He then informed me that he has been doing some singing lately and that he is “pretty good.” He even did a few imitations of old television characters. Once the pizza was made, he and I ate together. Jay and his grandma ate together and we all came together for a small dish of ice cream and a girl scout cookie.
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