Thursday, October 30, 2008

Frightening at times!

We have three boys, each with their own vibrant personalities and habits. As the days get shorter they start to spend more and more time indoors, bored. I try spending time with them whenever I get a chance but it’s not always easy finding a happy medium with all three. In a nutshell, I’ve got a thinker, an explorer/dreamer, and a how much trouble can I get into before someone catches me child. In each I see myself looking back at me. Many times I marvel at this fact and still there are those times where it’s down right frightening. Jenny usually makes the connection to this truth long before I do. I’m in denial.

This past weekend was beautiful and for late October temperatures were practically shorts weather. My legs usually take on a light bluish color before I relegate the shorts to the summer clothes drawer so this particular day was a bonus.

As Sunday drew to a close I couldn’t give up the day without going for a short run. As many of you know I’m a runner. I love to run and will do so at any opportunity given. One of the greatest pleasures in a runner’s life is being able to run with your children. I remember when I did my first ultramarathon my family met me at several of the aid stations. At one particular aid station, Ethan had asked if he could run with me for a while. A while ended up being only a couple hundred yards.

“I’m going to be a runner like you Dad!” he said with pride before calling it a day.

Since that time we’ve run on several occasions including our first 5K together. On Sunday I asked if he wanted to go for another run and as always he said, “Sure!”

Conversation is always light but that’s okay. Ethan always highlights the week’s events which are usually activity based and rarely informative of his academics.

“I’m second fastest in my class” he tells me with pride.

Our runs are usually interspersed with walks and only last about a half an hour but the quality carries on for the rest of the day.

Ah yes, the rest of the day. As I mentioned before I have three boys. In the time that I wasn’t watching over them directly my youngest had decided that his bangs were bugging him. So he cut them. Short!

Okay let me give you just a little background. I cut my own hair. I’ve cut my own hair for about twenty years now. I can’t be bothered with style and the other frivolous things that go along with it. If I make a mistake, gel can usually cover it up until it grows out a bit. It’s no big deal. My kids have seen me cut my hair on numerous occasions. Fade to black.

“Honey, did you see what Owen did to his hair while you were supposed to be watching him!” ,my wife says in a somewhat frustrated tone.

“Yes, I did!”

“Are you going to say something to him?”

“Owen, come here!”

Owen walks into the room. His head hung low. His bangs resemble something of a semi-circle or maybe a bent sickle I can’t be sure. It took everything I had not to laugh or crack a smile.

“Owen, did you cut your hair?” I said with the sternest face I had. And yet still a sense of pride was welling up inside me. Just like me my boy had cut his own hair. Free from style conscience masses that dictate what hair should look like. Free from the fashion police that draw the solid black line between what is in and what is out.

Dejected, he nods.

All I could muster was “Owen, don’t do it again.”

The resemblance was uncanny. In fact it was frightening.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Its Picture Day at School!

Picture Day at elementary school was always a challenge. A long line up of kids from your class lined up one after the other. Each one dressed up in their finest outfits or at least their coolest outfits. I remember as a kid trying to maintain some level of coolness as my mom picked out the geekiest clothes and combed my hair in the style to match my clothes. It was alright though because even the coolest kids had moms like mine and their hair actually looked worse.

It was a torturous day as we tried to maintain our hairstyles and keep our clothes clean until we got our pictures taken. There is a reason why photographers ask that the kindergarten and early grades go first because their expectation to make through recess unscathed was much less than the older grades.

One by one an already wearisome photographer rattles off a couple of shots per child and moves one to the next child. “Smile!” he commands not really waiting for a response just clicking the picture with a “Good enough” smirk on his face.

“Next please!”

One by one my friends were taken down. Their dorkiness captured forever on film to be produced into an 8 x10 and a couple of wallet size photos for all the relatives to laugh at.

Oh the torture of standing in line, all your friends looking at you weird like they’d never seen you before. Maybe they were secretly giggling at you. Laughing at the dorky haircut your mom just gave you. I’d show them I said to myself. I’m going to do the goofiest smile and make them all laugh. Yeah that’s it! But wait what will my mom say. Mom will freak if she sees a goofy smile in my picture.

Invariably the photographer always captured the very essence of the moment. Not quite a picture perfect smile and not the goofy weird face that would have won respect from the line up behind me but rather somewhere in between.

Years later, I’m a parent and now the roles change as the photographs come back from my children’s own picture day. As the media has gone from film to digital, a new era is brought in. A photographer could surely rattle off twenty pictures in the time it use to take one and there is virtually no cost. Just erase the one with the goofy smiles.

“How did the photos turn out honey?” I ask my wife.

“Hmmf! I could have done better!”

I stare in amazement at the photographs with their supposed grins, not quite a smile and not quite a goofy face that would have brought down the house. I have no response. The memories come flooding back and secretly I smile.

An 8 x10 and a couple of wallet size, please!