Thursday, November 4, 2010

But it worked for Todd Marinovich's dad

November 4, 2010

Hello to any of you that may actually stop by here to see if there is a post.  I appreciate your faithfulness.

There have been some things going on, so I wanted to get some of them down on computer, if you will.

With cross country season done for CJ, he has really thrown himself into homework and drums.  The same way a feather is thrown into a fan.  Well, not really that badly, but there seem to be some distractions in his brain.  No, not girls so much yet.  He and Taylor....

Wait, we have a story.

Halloween was last weekend.  CJ and his friends had a Latin Club thing to go to during which they collected cans for a food drive, and then it was trick or treat time.  Except that CJ is an eighth grader and 13 and does not want to trick or treat anymore.  That is fine with me.  I see plenty of older "kids" in their twenties out there treating, but if CJ wants to end his begging career early, who am I to judge.  I hope he never ends up homeless (for a lot of reasons), but he is going to lack the skill of standing on a corner and begging for food now that he gave up beggars night.

So the activity became bringing boys back to our basement.  The game system and computer are all that a few eighth grade boys need for entertainment.  At least the ones CJ had here.  Beth and I gave out candy, and along came some more eighth graders.  The group in the basement was four boys strong, and it quickly became 3 more boys, AND TWO GIRLS when I told them CJ was in the basement.  One of the boys could not even actually take candy from me as his one hand held the baseball bat that was part of his bat wielding bunny costume, and the other hand held a young lady's hand.  Letting go for either of them would apparently end the relationship right there and then, so the grip was maintained for the duration of their stay and beyond.

So in keeping up with the headcount in the basement, just like the Nintendo DS game, Brain Age, I had it at seven boys, TWO GIRLS.  Then along came two more GIRLS, and one of them was Taylor.  At least I thought it was through the costume and makeup and the "no talking to the weird dad" thing.  So GIRL #1, (who is an adorable CC team mate of CJ named Lydia), did the talking and asked if they could go to the basement and say hello.  Absolutely.  Headcount now, seven boys and FOUR GIRLS.  If you have not seen our basement, eleven toddlers down there would be crowded.  Eleven teenagers all hopped up on candy with You Tube access?  Smells like trouble. 

However, before I could get nervous and think about getting the hose, two boys and two girls exited the house.  Trick or treat was about over, Beth and I were cold, so we came back in.  There seemed to be a lot of giggling going on in the basement, but that was actually one of the boys.  13 year olds mature at different rates, as do 43 year olds as it turns out.

So rather than make much ado about nothing, eventually all boys AND GIRLS leave our basement, except of course one of the boys.  There is always one kid who you have to offer to drive home before they get the clue to leave on their own.  No, it was not CJ, he is a keeper.

Anyway, we will call that our first boy/GIRL party, and I think all went well.  Pretty harmless, I think.  It may take awhile to get the smell of Axe out of our basement though.

So here are the parenting moments I have taken from this and one other thing that has happened.  First, as it relates to Halloween night, I think it is cool that CJ is willing to stay here and invite kids over.  I interpret it that as I am not nearly as embarrassing to him as he likes to make me think.  I did make an effort to not "say anything funny", though references to hand checks and pot sniffing dogs were pulsating through my brain.  Beth and I would like to keep him close as long as possible.

Second, I would like to give advice to any dad out there that has been in my predicament.  I am a big fan of sports.  Loved playing them, love watching them.  CJ, not so much.  Does not care to watch them.  Isn't obsessed with playing team sports.  His favorite part of the games when he did play involved the treat after the game.

Therefore, I had two choices if I wanted to bond with my son, which I wanted to do very badly.  Actually, I did not want to bond with him badly, I wanted to bond with him goodly.  Carp, you know what I mean.

The first choice was to force/guide/guilt trip/push CJ into sports.  Keep signing him up and coaching him to be better or want it more.  Try to convince him that it was more fun than he thought.  Take him to games and bribe him with concession fare so that we would watch Xavier basketball or Cincinnati Reds baseball and have some awesome father/son bonding. 

The second choice was for me to start taking an interest in his interests.  That is the path I have chosen.  It isn't as hard as you might think, and fortunately, he is not into ballet or opera.  So I have found a PS3 game that I could play without becoming so frustrated that I threw the controller against the wall.  Scaring your kid, not the same as bonding.  Also, I go to his music ensemble practices to watch him play percussion and then ask questions about music and his part in it so that I can learn and be a part of it.  Did you know that playing the triangle is much trickier than it looks?  No, really.

And finally, I have started reading some of the books that CJ likes.  I wanted him to read The Hardy Boys series when he was younger because I grew up on them, but he wasn't into Frank and Joe and all their mystery solving.  However, he is into The Hunger Games Trilogy and now The Last Apprentice Series.  I told you about The Hunger Games already, but I just finished reading The Last Apprentice, Revenge of the Witch, and now when he does his book project this weekend, we can share out thoughts from the book together.  It really works.

So if any of you are dads, or play one on TV, or know one in real life that is trying to bond with a youngster, let him in on what I have discovered.  For all I know, it may even work for mothers and daughters.  I am not sure because I thought all girls were crazy about cooking and dressing up and have been for generations.  Is it a good thing I do not have a daughter?