Picture me driving my nine-year-old to school this morning. If you have never seen me in person, feel free to imagine me appearing as cool as you want, preferably as Han Solo (provided it is in Hoth gear because it was cold out this morning). It was he and I alone in the car for a few minutes on the short drive.
My seven-year-old remained home sick. It is moments like these, when I am afforded the opportunity to spend alone time with one of my sons while the other is indisposed that I feel I get to know each of them better. Without a similarly aged partner in crime, the conversations about farts, explosions and proposals for new Angry Birds is put on hold.
Instead, I get longer than one word answers to questions like, "How is school going?" I also get told a lot about cartoon episodes I have been missing. I allow him to bombard me with scene after scene from whatever particular show I have not had the pleasure of watching with him (today it was Invader Zim, which they have discovered on Netflix) and I throw an occasional question in between.
The ride was going smoothly. Our seat warmers were activated. I was hearing all about how Zim did something with something and about the books he has been reading when he doesn't have his 3DS plastered to his face.
Then, in a moment between moments, during one of those sections of ever so slightly elongated silence that isn't necessarily uncomfortable, but begs to be filled, I decided to say something. The words just sort of came out.
"Every day I'm shufflin'," I sang, followed by a series of beeps and boops meant to sound like the song Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.
The fact that my sons listen to and love this song is a conversation for another time. Their friends sing it; it's on the radio; it's on Just Dance 3. I am resigned to the fact that they will listen to music that I do not appreciate with their shared fervor. The point today is that I sang a portion of a song that I knew my son liked in an attempt to seem cool.
And it spectacularly backfired.
"Dad!" he shouted. "That's the most annoying part of that song!"
I was shocked at first, mostly by his ability to absolutely hate one part of a song he could not get enough of otherwise. Soon I realized that his intense dislike for that part was more than likely magnified by the fact that his old man just sang it. I had to laugh to myself.
"That's funny," I chuckled.
"No it's not," he retorted.
"No, I just find it funny that daddy's favorite part is the part that you don't like," I explained.
"I don't find that funny at all," he said. "It's annoying."
But I did find it funny. I couldn't help it. Here is a boy who reads the things I read; who watches over my shoulder as I play a video game, waiting his crack at the same title and who I do the same to; who builds Lego sets with me; who watches cartoons, hockey and Man vs. Wild with me. Yet still I can embarrass him by trying to relate to his choice in music.
I recalled thinking that my own father was lame as a kid when I suddenly liked bands that he didn't. Prior to liking music he didn't care for, we shared musical interests. It was Billy Joel and Springsteen. It was the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues collection and the Rolling Stones. Then, when I started listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana, my father suddenly rekindled his flare for the Everly Brothers and Glen Miller's big band music. It was as if he purposely recoiled into his private section of the venn diagram that was our musical tastes as I expanded mine. We were at war.
As I internally mused about my progression into the world of what my son considered lame and annoying, we had already pulled up in front of his school. He climbed from the front seat of my truck, book bag over his shoulder, and leapt to the ground. Unlike my usual procedure, I exited the car as well and quickly insisted that he give me a hug and kiss right there in front of the other kids walking to school.
He did so immediately and willingly, but then glanced in all directions afterward to check and see if any of his classmates might have caught that. Then, it was a mad dash down the sidewalk without looking back to put distance between us.
Let the games begin.
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