Thursday, July 3, 2008

The long weekend

My son and I are getting on one another's nerves. It's happening more and more lately, enough to the point where my wife has declared that the boy and I require some male-bonding alone-type time over the holiday weekend, while she and the girls stay in and presumably gossip about how annoying the two of us have been lately. This is a common parent's lament: my child is so different from me, we don't think alike, we don't understand one another. I've never held any pretension that I was going to be a "cool" dad. Since becoming a father over a decade ago, I've learned to embrace my inner uncool, connect with the Geek Within. So what's a parent to do when their kid turns out to have all the signs and symptoms of coolness?

The differences are striking: he's athletic and tan and lean, proudly showing off his skatepark-earned scrapes as he sits in his room picking out Nirvana and Hendrix on his electric guitar. I was the opposite: pasty and chubby and uncoordinated, far more prone to contemplating the hit points of gelatinous cubes to doing anything resembling physical activity, unless it was re-reading the Hobbit for the umpteenth time. Had we been children at the same time, we would not have been likely to be friends, though I can't help thinking that I would have envied him just a bit. The apple didn't just fall far from the tree, but it looks disturbingly like some kind of exotic citrus.

What I need to remember -- and this gets harder to do as he gets closer to his teens -- is that he and I are artifacts of the last century. He is the only male child in the house, and the only of my children who was born in the twentieth century. When he's a grandparent, I'm sure he'll be looked upon with wonder by his own progeny, Old Grandpa born back when the years started with a nineteen. We need to stick together, us last-century guys. Of course, he's got this-century tastes, so we're planning to take in the latest Pixar romp, grab some smoothies and bunker in at the local video game swap shop, just two different kids from a different time, trying to reconnect and find a little common ground.

6 comments:

Strikethru said...

I took my kid to Wall-E too, but she's 2. However, the attitude has already kicked in.

skyriter said...

I took my children (with their aunt, uncle and three cousins) to Wall-E as well. The older kids enjoyed it, but my three year old got bored about thirty-five minutes into the movie and, to avoid distraction for the other children and audience in general, we spent the last hour and fifteen minutes outside on the sidewalk. I had already seen what was going to be my favorite part by then - Wall-E's treasure trove of salvaged items.

skyriter said...

My son and I are off to Boy Scout camp this week.

mpclemens said...

Well, the movie and weekend went fine and we did some reconnecting, which seems to have been shot all to crap with a fight this morning over his summer reading assignment. Sigh

CStanford said...

My oldest brother's third youngest was haranguing my brother for a while on his failure to be a cool dad. None of the rest of us would have predicted that he should be the one to start that.

I really wonder what my daughter is going to think of me when she gets into double digits.

Duffy Moon said...

I think that, as a parent, I have really conflicting, almost opposite wishes for my kids. I want them to be different enough from me so that they don't have the same struggles I had growing up (who wants their kid to be a cripplingly introverted late-bloomer, lining up for his daily ass-kicking behind the gym?). But you also want your kids to be enough like you so that you can, you know, RELATE. It's a weird dichotomy, one I haven't yet reconciled.