I wish I was better at explaining things…
Out of the blue tonight, my son looked at me and said, “The Simpsons are funny, huh dad?” (he’s 12 – of course the Simpsons are funny). Well, how funny is this? Serious Graffiti has a bunch of (outside) wall paintings that are just fun to see.
I didn’t realize that Bill Cosby and I were brothers. We must be… we had to have had the same parents. Did you? (This is for Mssc54).
Hopefully this will help you ease into your weekend:
I experienced deja vu with a slight twist last night.
My 12 year old son and I went to Magic Mountain (here in SoCal) for a private party (my university rents the park one night each year for current students, alumni, friends, and etc. to mix). One of the good things about going each year is that it is cheap (our tickets were $25) and the lines are short – really short – as in non-existant (attendance is about a quarter of a normal operating day). We not only did not wait in line, but following several rides we were asked if we wanted to ride again.
About two hours into the evening, while driving the bumper cars, I was overwhelmed with this sense of deja vu – with a twist.
(As background) On my 13th birthday, my dad took me to Magic Mountain (about a month after it opened). There were few rides and (it seemed) fewer people, so on several rides we were asked if we wanted to ride again. The bumper cars were our favorite ride of the day.
(Back to last night) It hit me while I was chasing my son around in the bumper cars (same location since opening day) as I saw him glance back at me with an absolute look of joy on his face… and I saw me – more than 35 years before as my dad chased me around in the same bumper cars, laughing like mad.
How great is that?
My son (12 years old) took me to see the new Star Wars (Clone Wars) movie tonight. We were actually supposed to see The Mummy, but he misread the newspaper and thought it started at 6:30pm instead of the actual 7:30pm. So we settled on Star Wars at 6:50, bought our popcorn and cokes (I know, I’m supposed to stop drinking Coke – according to my New School Year Resolutions - but it’s not September 1 yet) and settled into an empty theater.
Since we had thirty minutes to kill and were in an empty theater, we thought nothing of sitting and talking. We noticed the screen was looping through about six movie quotes, and after the third time through we started calling out the answers just before they were revealed. I was reminded of a scene from my favorite movie, Groundhog Day, when Bill Murray is sitting in the B&B living room eating snacks and calling out the answers (actually, questions) during Jeopardy (“What is Lake Titicaca?” still cracks me up – Junior High potty humor still makes me laugh). Anyway, my son seemed to like the movie.
I found it interesting that only four other people entered the theater to watch the movie with us – and they were all adults - until I realized that school started today (I guess good parents don’t take their kid to a movie on a school night), there was a baseball game going on across the way, and some other big event was going in another stadium down the street.
I guess there wasn’t that much to report. We just had a great time together. Again. (He’s not a teenager, yet).
I “discovered” the film, Be Kind Rewind, on our flight to Hawaii. I say discovered, because although I had seen a trailer, my assumption was that, typical of Jack Black’s recent work, the trailer would be the best parts of the film – so no need to see the rest. In fact, when the person next to my son and I asked us about the film I made some kind of disparaging comment before admitting I had not seen the film.
At any rate, with five hours to kill and not in the mood to read, my son and I decided to watch the film. It was a joy. Jack Black was actually funny, Mos Def carried the film, Danny Glover was excellent, Mia Farrow helped tie the concept together, and a cameo by Sigourney Weaver was perfect.
I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who might choose to watch, but the basic concept of the film is charming – a young man (Mos Def) trying to live up to the trust placed in him by Danny Glover’s character, while trying to tame Jack Black and keep the neighborhood happy, all woven together by the necessity of a spirit of independence and harmony, leading to an independent film retrospective of a larger than life character who’s contribution to the neighborhood is fictionalized by the neighbors into legend (whoa, one sentence).
I think I received as much joy by watching my twelve-year-old son enjoy the film (out of the corner of my eye) as I did by watching the film itself – which was part of the charm for me. It is highly unlikely that we would have ever gone to see the film or watched it on video, and it is possible that the only thing that made this film enjoyable (and now, memorable) is that I was with my son on a five-hour flight with not much else to do, but I found it entertaining, charming, well done, and clever.
Give it a chance, if you haven’t already seen it.
My son and I just returned from San Francisco and, as predicted here, the Giants dropped two to the Brewers. Friday night was a debacle and today was worse (I needn’t go into detail, read the Sunday sports page). My son asked many questions about baseball and life, and we talked through some of the stickier issues of the infield fly rule and why passing gas in front of girls might not be his best choice – all the important issues of life.
We found the House of Nanking. I had heard great things about it and all were true. It may be some of the finest Chinese food we have ever tasted. We were seated, but given no menus. The chef came to our table when he heard that we were first timers and looked at us for a minute, then said, “I’ll take care of you.” He proceded to send dish after dish to our table and we feasted on all the things we like. So there you go – great Chinese food that was prepared by a mind reader.
We also went out to the WWII bunkers on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge – loads of interesting fun that seems to be the best kept secret. My son thought this was one of his greatest days ever. We then walked around the city (primarily Fisherman’s Wharf and Market district). We also took time to visit a couple of bookstores.
We had a great time and have many memories that will last us until we go again next year. We talked all the way home (a six hour drive – stopping for Chinese food for dinner again tonight). It is a source of both joy and amazement that my son still (not only tolerates, but) likes to hang out with me.
My son and I take a trip each summer to San Francisco to watch our beloved Giants get beat (generally by the Dodgers), this time by the Brewers. In the past, he and I have been able to visit Alcatraz, the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum (really odd), Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, the Cable Cars, Giradelli Square, Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge, and other sites. This time we are focused on finding a particular restaurant we have heard about, The House of Nanking.
My son is 12, still talks to me, believes I’m funny (my 10 year old daughter has already lost interest in the things I find funny), and actually wants to hang out with me. I’m seeing him continue to take to the things I like (for example – Chinese food and reading – two of the greatest pleasures one could possibly pursue). I’m sobered by the fact that I hear him saying and doing things that I say and do. It is a constant reminder that I still have the ability to influence his behaviors and relationships – what a wonderfully frightening realization and responsibility.
Anyway, a weekend in San Francisco watching my favorite sport and team and enjoying the company of my son. It really doesn’t get much better than this. See you Monday!
One of my goals, if I became a father, was to be a good father. We waited fourteen years to have kids (my wife says we had to wait for me to grow up – but had to quit waiting or we would never have had kids).
I didn’t really define what a good father was, except that I knew I had to somehow influence my kids to be readers. At any rate, my wife and I committed to reading with our kids from the womb until they turned (about) 10. Although we mixed it up a bit, for the most part I read with our son and she read with our daughter.
My son and I read every night. There were times (when he was around 3-4) that he would say, “Dad, can we not read tonight?” And my answer was always, “This is what we do.” Well, I started my doctorate when he was about six and would work all day Friday as a principal, then drive about an hour and a half to grad school and attend classes. I would get home on Friday nights at about 11:30pm and he would be waiting on the stairs with a book. One Friday night I came home really tired and looked at my son and said, “Dude, I’m really tired. Let’s not read tonight.” His response? You guessed it – “But dad, this is what we do.”
Here are some of our favorite books we read together during that time:
The Hardy Boys series (the whole set in one year), The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Space Trilogy, the Lemony Snicket series, the Great Illustrated Books series, the Accidental Detectives series, and several individual books like Maniac McGee and Tuck Everlasting (these are the books and series that my son says hold special memories for him).
He decided he was ready to read on his own not too long after he turned 10 and started with the Star Wars series, then moved on to the Redwall series. I miss reading together, but am thrilled that he has become such a voracious reader. He has even written a couple of his own books – while he was 11.
I know there is more to being a good father than reading together, but I also hope this was at least a start.