When I heard that Obama was considering Hillary as Secretary of State, my mind started thinking about how Obam, Hillary and Joe will work together. At that point, I heard the tune to ‘l’m Hardrock, I’m Coco, I’m Joe.” I thought Barack would likely be Hardrock. Though its a stretch, I’d pick Hillary for Hardrock and Joe Biden for Joe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT5Ohgl7eTM
If you’ve never heard of Hardrock, Coco, and Joe, then you were not watching morning tv as a child in the Midwest. It was not uncommon to see these guys sing on cold winter mornings until Christmas. This was before cable and the land of a thousand channels. So snuggle up with some hot coco and jam to Hardrock, Coco, and Joe
My son asked me for some one on one time. I took a pass on some work I had to do and decided to make the most of this opportunity. For all the things we are scheduled to do, it felt good to have some unstructured time together with him. My wife suggested a movie, but G rated movies are hard to find. So I stumbled on to a link that led me to ComedySportz4kids. I love improvisational theater and want to expose my kids to it, so I went for it.
I kept it a surprise. We took the train into the city for the 2:00p.m. show. It was $8.00 to get in. It was satisfying watching his nearly seven year old mind trying to figure out where we were. As we sat outside the main entrance, a group of thirteen boys came in for a birthday party. I momentarily feared it would be us and a group of kids all together. But then other kids came with their parents.
They led us into the intimate theater. We sat in the front row, though there didn’t appear to be any bad seats. . Two of the three performers came around in a red shirt and a blue shirt to get ideas from the kids for the show. They seemed quite comfortable being around kids and engaging kids. The kids ranged in age from as young as about 4-10.
The whole show involved the the red and blue guy and a man who played the coach. They found a way to include the kids ideas and more importantly the kids into the experience. My son was a part of a farm animal orchestra. Also he had a song improvised about his name. The performers made a whole scene with songs about a girl in attendance based on limited information she provided about herself. The performers succeeded at giving the kids room to be silly, loud, and very active.
It was a very fun time. We talked and laughed about it the whole way home.
As parents, I believe we are continuously confronted with opportunities to question whether we’ve done as much as we could for our kids. For me, this often comes in the question of whether I’ve exposed my kids to enough good reading material. My wife has often joked about the fact that our sons could not tell you anything about Harry Potter but ask them to tell you about Rocky or the Karate Kid and they’ll go on and on. I think my kids are pretty bright, so when I hear that their peers are “so into Harry Potter,” I begin to wonder what makes a 6 or 4 year old that into Harry Potter. In fact, I wonder if they are into Harry Potter or if it is simply more enjoyable for the parents.
When the boys hear the “Gonna Fly Now” theme on one of the homemade kids CD’s, they always ask to hear the Rocky story. J usually has a question about “cuff and link,” the turtles. And when we get to the top of the Philedelphia museum, Ry often wants to hear about the Karate Kid. In my best Mr. Miyagi voice, I say, “wax on-wax off.” And then, I’ll switch to a stern Mr. Miyagi, “no! Daniel son…wax on…wax off.”
The most recent form of scholastic advancement has come in the form of the Green Hornet and Kato. As I write, I’m thinking of the cadence of the story, “If you give a pig a pancake.” If you expose a boy to Kato, then you have to tell him about Bruce Lee. If you tell him about Bruce Lee, he’ll want you to show him Youtube clips of Bruce confronting many bad guys by himself. If you show him Bruce in action, then he’ll want you to tell him about other lesser known heroes of that era, including “super chicken.” If you tell him about “superchicken,” he’ll want you to stop and read to him about a giving a pig a pancake.
Ry is entering first grade this fall. And like most other years, I expected he would request and need a new backpack. What I didn’t expect was he’d want a plain backpack. This meant no Sponge Bob, Car figures, or media creations on his back. I didn’t really believe he’d follow through on this. And yet on Saturday, while buying his mom a birthday gift, I offered to look at backpacks with him.
He appeared most interested in the number of pockets and zippers available. He noticed the array of comic charactors, but he was not interested. He spotted a totes back pack with zippers, drink holders, and ample room, but we decided to check out a few more at another store. At Filenes, we hit the jackpot. There was a nice selection. He carefully dissected the bright yellow Addidas pack compared it to the Jansport and then tried them on. He opted for Adiddas, but noticed subtle but differences in color and features. Before making the final decision, we put his mom’s box in the back pack, along with the Sponge Bob umbrella, and found a cap to put in, and lastly put his flip flops where his shoes could go. And the ultimate test, “how does it feel and does it fit?” He walked about the store, looked good, felt good….we had a winner!
I am not one of those people who believes “your parents did the best they could.” Therefore when I decided to have kids, the bar was set pretty high. For the most part, I feel pretty good about how I’ve been as a parent. But the other day, my son made me doubt myself and empathize with my own parents.
Ry just returned from a sports themed birthday party. He came home feeling excited about football because people noticed how well he threw a spiral. So he wanted to go to the park and show me. I was quite impressed. For a 6 year old, he looked very good to me. He however was tired and focused on his difficulty catching and how other kids are better at baseball than he is.
I kept trying to point out how well I thought he played in a variety of sports, but he was not in place to hear any of it. He felt bad and wanted me to get it.
And I started to doubt myself. I thought it was great we could expose him to a variety of sports through play and classes. In fact, this was not something I had growing up and wished I had. When I realized I wanted him to feel happy and excited about all he could do at six, I failed to realize this was not the standard he was applying. In his six year old world, he feels he should master everything all his friends do.
It all sounded so familiar. My parents wanted me to be happy with the life they provided me, but I saw all of the additional possibilities for play, camp, and school that they didn’t. They felt good about the options they provided for me that they didn’t have. But I was starting life with a different benchmarks than them, which is what my kid seems to be going through.
It was humbling for me to accept that as much as I want to be a better parent, a different parent…in some ways, I’m confronting the same challenges they faced. And will probably have to answer the same questions from my sons.