Happiness

m-ito ism

m-ito ism

M-ito said to me a few days ago, “Did you know that happiness is made up of two words – happy and penis?”

“No, I did not.” I replied.

But I will never think of happiness quite the same way again.

10 Armpit Hairs

Frazetta the Incredible

Here’s my list for the ten best Dad-dito moments of 2012. These are in no particular order.

  1. My son got his first armpit hair and has underarm body odor. He is now wearing an adult size shoe. Puberty is around the corner. But the happy smile on my son’s face as he lifted his arm to show off his BO has been more than worth the price of this early transition. He is slowly emerging as a sexual being, one hair and smell at a time. “Hey Dad-dito, smell this!” has taken on a whole new meaning.
  2. My son read a book about puberty called What’s Going On Down There, by Gravelle and Castro. He laughed at the big nose/small penis jokes inside and the cartoon line drawings. It had a section about being Gay and a section on girls and provoked discussion for a good month afterwards. He read it cover to cover. I can’t recommend this book for boys enough (age 10-14).
  3. We saw The Hobbit together and loved it. We saw John Carter of Mars together and loved it. My son chose to see these movies with me over seeing them with his friends. That won’t happen much longer so I’m grateful for these moments while I have them. This was the year we graduated to live action films. We still see lots of animated films and that is good because I love animated films also but a corner was turned.
  4. Mom-ita and I survived M-ito going to sleep-away camp for two weeks. We survived. He survived. I don’t know if he’s going back again this summer but… we all learned something about being apart from each other. I learn over and over again how much I love my son and my wife. And I will never forget how it felt to say goodbye.
  5. Ratzo’s zombie apocalypse almost took over the world on my son’s birthday. For the third year in a row my son asked me to create a live roleplaying save-the-world from super villain Ratzo birthday adventure. He says he wants a fourth go at it. I hope I have it in me.
  6. My son said he has classes that he enjoys in school. Seriously, this year, 5th grade, he actually said Fridays are his favorite day at school and he does not want to miss it. I practically had a heart attack. He has a day he wants to go to school! His favorite classes are Drama (they play great theatre games) which he has twice on Friday, and Percussion (he loves the xylophone). The only thing that would make it better would be if he had art class too.
  7. My son read all 24 books in The Warriors series. He loved this series so much he actually said, “I wish this didn’t have to end.” What else can I say?
  8. My son played soccer at school on their B-team. This was the first time he’s ever played an organized team sport. They lost all of their games but scored goals in 3 of their 5 games. It was wonderful watching him play. He says he didn’t enjoy it but I think he enjoyed the experience overall. Mostly I enjoyed going to two of the games, standing on the sidelines, and watching the same way my father did with me when I played baseball, football, and rugby. My father came to both games also so for a few moments in time we watched M-ito play together.
  9. M-ito received his purple belt in Taekwondo. He is 60% of the way to his black belt. Watching him do his forms, break boards, and spar was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve done as a father. He was near perfect in all three aspects, though he had to persevere through hitting his board with his knuckles six times before the board finally broke. That’s character and guts. Ouch.
  10. Hurricane Sandy left my Rockaway in-laws homeless and Pop-pop, my father in=law, living with us for two months while the ground floor of his home was rebuilt. M-ito gave up his room and slept with us. For a few weeks one of Mom-itas sisters stayed with us also on the living room couch. Many nights were spent with the three men sitting together on the sofa watching The Big Bang Theory. We survived the holidays together. We’re all still talking so I count it a success. I also have an image of my shirt-less father in-law walking around our apartment scratching his stomach that I can’t get rid of and a few moments of we’re living in close quarters, I have no privacy, somebody get me out of this nut-house, and I just want to get in bed get under the covers and pull them up over my head, that I’ll keep close to me but in the end I think it all balances out.

I come back to this again and again. It is the hardest job I have – being a father. I need a beginners mind for just about everything I do as one and I have to learn quickly in order to keep up with my son. It is frustrating. It is heartbreaking, sometimes boring (helping with homework), fun, terrifying, daunting, maddening, makes me full of rage some days and pride on others. It is also the most fulfilling and wonderful job I have and I would not trade it in for anything.

Feet and other sundry things…

My son is now wearing an adult sized shoe.

He has now pulverized me in Strategery, epic scale, one on one.

He has just finished 24 of the 26 Warrior novels even though he likes dogs more than cats. He expects to finish the last two before Thanksgiving and I believe he will. “I wish these wouldn’t end,” is his highest complement for the series.

He has watched all three of the Lord of the Rings movies in preparation for The Hobbit coming out in three weeks.

He now watches Big Bang Theory with us (including his grandfather and aunt who are still staying with us as the first floor of their house in Rockaway is being rebuilt from the hurricane damage). What were we thinking when we allowed this (I’m referring to watching the show…)?

He still loves animation. We say Wreck it Ralph last week in the theatre, Flushed Away, and Over the Hedge on DVD – all of which had us both in stitches.

His favorite day at school is still Friday and not because it’s the last day of the school week. He loves it because he has drama class twice, or drama and shop and those classes make him smile.

He still loves art, taking a three-hour class at the Art Student’s League of New York every Saturday morning with his friend. I drive him in and write all morning at Argo Tea around the corner.

 

Time to Do, Time to Be (dobedobedo)

 

Time

Do Be Do Be Do

The clock is ticking.

My son is in Fifth grade and part of the fifth grade experience at his school is to play on two team sports during the year. He shall receive the team experience one way or the other. M-ito enjoys playing soccer but it is not, at this point in his life, his thing. Other sports are, though they’re mostly individual sports so in some ways I’m glad he’s playing a team sport so he gets the experience. His life, I hope, will be richer for it.

Team sports were a big part of my growing up so I see their value (even if I also see their horror – oh the horror!).

What this means is this summer I had a fatherhood crisis of sorts. Because I could see it coming. M-ito would be playing games during the week in addition to his usual after-school activities (taekwondo, art, play). Then back in June my son said…

M-ito – Why do you work all the time?

Me – I don’t work all the time.

M-ito – Yes you do. Even on vacation.

Me – Oh.

Mom-ita – Sage nod of her head.

What do I work at besides attempting to be a dad and partner to my wife? My day job as a Director of Training at a not-for-profit in Manhattan. I do some consulting work in the same field also. I teach yoga two-three classes a week. I write when I can (these days during lunch) and try to keep up with the marketing of my book.

How was I going to make time to see games? I didn’t know.

I’d stopped teaching stage fencing a few years before, because I didn’t have time. I still miss that very much. Then I started teaching yoga. I know, I know. It’s a long story for another time. But I did teacher training and started teaching when M-ito was 4. Five and a half years of teaching later…

Last one in, first one out. It was simple, really. Just like an accounting system.

Difficult conversations, part 1 – Stranger Danger

So… I didn’t make up the stranger danger line, M-ito’s fourth grade teacher did and I just copied it. It has a certain zing though.

Anyway. This is the conversation we all need to have with our kids about adult strangers, private parts, and how the two should never meet. Of course Mom-ita and I realized we hadn’t had this conversation with M-ito about camp just about one hour into the trip… to camp. I know. I know. I’m a bad Dad-dito. Mom-ita and I realized this just about the same time (not that I’m a bad Dad-dito, but that we hadn’t had the stranger danger talk – work with me here). So we attempted to have this conversation as our son was just about holding on to his nerves knowing that he was going away for two weeks on his own to camp where he’d never been before.

What not to do:

  • Don’t bring this up on the car trip up to your son’s first sleep away camp. Otherwise… your son will drop his jaw and get a deer caught in the headlights expression on his face, followed by anger that’s expressed as, “You’re bringing this up NOW?”
  • See bullet one above. That’s really the only thing not to do.
  • Don’t bring up in detail the whole Penn State thing. It’s too complex. Don’t ask me how I know. I’ve done enough damage for one afternoon.

What to do:

  • Bring it up any time before the day of the trip to camp. A few days is probably better as a cushion.
  • Do tell him it’s not okay for anyone else to touch his private parts and make sure he knows (he’ll tell you, I know what you mean) what you mean.
  • Do tell him to get help from another adult at the camp immediately, if he can.
  • Do tell him to make noise and get away if he can.
  • Try not to make it seem like anything will be his fault.
  • Have these conversations with your child when he’s much younger so by the time he gets to the age of 10 and is going away to camp and rolls his eyes at you for bringing this up you know it’s okay because he’s been stranger danger talked to enough already. Then you can sleep well at night.
  • Prevention is protection.

A side note. When I brought this up with M-ito yesterday we talked about it a little more and it was okay. As long as I didn’t go on for more than 30 seconds, like I usually do. I actually stopped before my son said, “Dad-dito, that’s enough.”

Friggin’ Zombie Apocalypse

M-ito is home.

Ahhh. The dogs are happy. Mom-ita and I are happy. There is a giant sigh of relief in Jackson Heights.

After listening to a host of stories on the 3-hour (shopping at outlet mall, lunch at pizza place, Carvel at rest stop) drive home here are  Zendad-dito’s top three things my son has learned from his two weeks away at camp. This list is of course, totally subjective.

  1. Friggin’ may not be in the dictionary, nor is it a 4-letter word, but it can be useful when around other 10-11 year old boys for two weeks straight. My son had a lot of practice using it – so he sheepishly says. This made me smile. Experimenting with the English language is a good thing.
  2. “I learned that I can make a lot of decisions by myself.” M-ito said this with an authentic look of honesty and pride – a look that said, “I made a lot of decisions, some good, some bad, but I learned from them how to do better for myself.” This really made me proud.
  3.  Zombies are scary (especially as played by camp counselors) and can scare the crap out of you, but also make for highly entertaining and engaging large-scale roleplays – at the Zombie Apocalypse day at camp. “They had us barricaded in the rec room and said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t touch the doors!'” Zombies never lose their cool.

And finally… at the rest stop (see picture below) M-ito doing what he likes the most, eating Carvel ice cream and reading a book.

Dodgeball and Songs about God

And the answers to yesterdays quiz are 1 and 4:

1. made to play dodgeball for 2 hours
2. force-marched for five miles up mount Baldy and back without food or water
3. tortured with roasting marshmallows without chocolate or graham crackers for an hour before bed
4. made to sing songs about God
5. made to eat cocoa pebbles until their stomachs were ready to burst
6. made to watch Yellow Submarine three times in a row because of heavy rain in “the big house” which is like a prison

 We received another letter late yesterday. M-ito is doing better but still misses us. He received lots of our letters and has been overwhelmed by them. I can’t tell what that means in 10-year old speak. I’ll have to ask him tomorrow. Ah. We miss him too. What an amazing two weeks it has been. I just finished watching the last two seasons of Entourage – excellent. Mom-ita and I are going to dinner this evening after we clean the apartment. Dust bunnies are scampering.
Tomorrow morning we go pick up our son. Our home will be full again.
Oh yeah.