Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The 11th month

Is it just me, or does November seem to be dragging, and dragging, and dragging ...

Maybe because Thanksgiving was so early, but this month just doesn't seem to be ending. That said, I've been recollecting on Novembers past, thinking about three, 25, 20 and 10 years ago. Allow me to reminisce:

-- 1982: This might be the one autumn from grade school I remember the most vividly. I started my first paper route, the Harlem-Foster Times weekly, the day after Election Day, and the paper pulled a Dewey-beats-Truman in declaring Adlai Stevenson Jr. defeated James Thompson for Illinois governor. So the first news I ever delivered was inaccurate. Also, I remember watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and seeing Laura Branigan sing "Gloria" and Paul Williams sing "You and Me Against the World" to a giant Olive Oyl float. Only significant because Wife remembers the same parade moments, meaning at that time, 11 years before we met, we were watching the same thing.

-- 1987:
I went on a mildly intense retreat 20 years ago, and it really seems like yesterday. I know I say that about a lot of things, but it so applies here. I also remember Thanksgiving that year watching MTV by my grandparents' house and seeing videos for "True Faith" by New Order, "Is This Love?" by Whitesnake and "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle.

-- 1997: Ten years ago Wife and I saw "Rent" in downtown Chicago. Theater in Chicago might not be the same as it is on Broadway or in London, but it's still miles above other cities. We went across the street after the play to the bar of a nicer restaurant to watch the end of the Wisconsin-Michigan game, then met friends out for dinner. Being in downtown Chicago is an experience, more so than downtown Milwaukee or Madison (and way more than Salt Lake City), and for one day, it felt great to be a Chicagoan, even if we were living in Madison.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sweet November

Thanksgiving is in a few days, and I know it's an early Thanksgiving this year, but if feels like March here in Utah, as it got to 70 degrees today. With no leaves on the trees, it almost felt like March. Alas, that's still four months away. I took the boys to the park again, where they didn't need jackets. I did put a 12-month-sized jean jacket on Littlest this morning, thinking it was the last time he'd probably ever wear it -- it's supposed to cool off.

It is indeed a weird convergence -- no leaves on trees, it's Thanksgiving week, it's 70 degrees, and there are three radio stations playing just Christmas music. If you just dropped me into this setting after being in suspended animation, I might not have any idea what time of year it would be. I'm sure that will change next week, as the colder weather sets in and the Christmas bombardment gets into high gear. Until then, I'm hoping the warm weather lasts just one more day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A joyful dinner

It's been a rough week -- we're having problems with Eldest's preschool, something hopefully I'll address in another post -- but we had a nice dinner tonight at Chili's, of all places. I want to relate two things that made it joyful:

-- Eldest didn't eat a lot, but after two really antsy minutes, he settled down and was good the rest of the meal. I brought a train for him to play with, Salty (from Thomas the Tank Engine), who has a Scottish accent. I tried imitating the voice for him, but it sounded like the old sea captain on The Simpsons instead. After my bad impression, Eldest, as he played with the train, mimicked my bad Scottish accent, making his voice so gruff he had to cough a couple times.

-- Littlest ate almost a whole plate of macaroni and cheese. I don't know where the skinny guy puts it. He tried to use his spoon, too, and did a good job with it for an 18-month-old. No complaints, no fussing, he just sat there and ate, and ate.

As I said, it was a rough week, particularly a rough day, but on the way to the restaurant, the song "More Today Than Yesterday" came on the radio. You know, "I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow." I looked at my boys and realized how true that statement is, and that was one more joy for a rough Thursday.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Little things

It was a dad-and-son day with just Eldest and me today. He did really well, with the usual annoyances of a 3-year-old, and we had a lot of fun. But he wasn't perfect ...

Incident No. 1 happened at church. Now, a 3-year-old sitting through a whole Mass is perhaps impossible, preschoolers are simply not biologically wired to be solemn for an hour (especially after an hour of CCD). However, Eldest made a friend, a girl in the pew in front who was maybe 4 or 5. They quiely compared missalettes and quietly kept each other occupied for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Communion came, and he wanted to walk up toward the altar with her, never mind any sort of waiting our turn to get into the aisle. Eldest tried to get by a woman ahead of us and accidentally kicked her, drawing a huffy tsk. I angrily picked him up, apologized to the woman twice, and carried him up to communion. We got back to the pew where he hugged me and felt sad. I hugged him back and told him everything we were going to do during thte day. They called the kids up for a blessing, and Eldest and his new friend walked uo holding hands, it was so cute, I joked to her mom that I hope they were coming back. She said her daughter was good about returning, I almost replied I hoped they weren't running off to Vegas. Eldest was fine the rest of Mass and for donuts after.

Incident No. 2: We went to a sports grill that also had an arcade for lunch at the Gateway shopping center downtown. As it was an NFL Sunday, there was a wait to sit down. We played some videogames and air hockey, then got seated, which he didn't like. But he eventually settled down, ate a little, cheered for the Colts, and then we went back to the arcade. He didn't even put up too much of a fight when we left, but he didn't want to go back to the car. I suggested some ice cream, then we walked to look at the Olympic fountain. He saw some kids running around and joined them, but it was time to go. But Eldest didn't want to and kept running around, and I actually had to chase him down, pick him up and walk him toward the car. I put him back down to walk, and he almost wandered into the street before I grabbed him again. He may have been overtired at that point -- it was a long week and a long day-- but he whined all the way home.

Can two infuriating moments spoil an otherwise great day? No, it shouldn't, but sometimes I find it's tough to remember the 98 percent good in light of the 2 percent that wasn't. Both boys are going to drive us crazy sometimes over the coming decades, and that's what we signed up for. But we also signed up with the hopes of decades of joy, too. Yes, Eldest pissed me off supremely twice today, which I'll probably forget about soon. And he brought joy, which I won't soon forget. I shouldn't forget that the next time the infuriation comes around.