Sunday, April 11, 2004

Icing Sore Kairos

The side panel is nicely redecorated now, arranged to my liking.  Because this long weekend ends at midnight tonight and tomorrow is a day heaped with appointments, athletics rigmarole and student writing, the side features will remain just so for a while.  Or just so-so for a while, depending on your view.  The only thing I hope to add over there is an about cognomen--the insignia of self tucked to the right (or left, depending on where you sit from the position of your monitor).  

Last night, I started to write an entry that I deleted and scrapped rather than posting here. Didn't even save a copy for returning to it another day down the line.  That's never happened before.  We'd just finished watching Radio.  An easy, predictable movie.  Based loosely on a true story.  And I was trying to write about the simplicity of the movie, about the appeal of being entertained simply, about not wanting to complicate it by looking too hard.  It should be a break from looking hard--I thought.  But it also grabbed ahold of me in a few ways I wasn't prepared for.  It wasn't that I didn't want to be taken in to the foreseeably emotional story; it wasn't that I didn't expect sad parts.  The movie turned me toward my own life--an unexpected, uninvited warp of reflexigency in movie-watching.  Instead of looking at Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding Jr., I was looking at myself and not fully enjoying what it stirred.  And without divulging all there is to it (without, again, making EWM into blewg confessional), it was mainly a mix of the sudden death-of-mother scene piled on top of my own uneasiness with the Easter holiday.  

Ridiculous, eh?  Nobody claims Easter as their difficult holiday. It's springtime, for Chris'sake. Christmas, Valentine's problem.  But Easter.  Guilt about following/not following the semiannual lemming-march to church, self-identifying as a bad parent who does the Easter Bunny way worse than Santa and the Tooth Fairy, associating the desperation and powerlessness of a few years ago in the throes of adoption.  My basket: melancholia de jure. Oh, and, well, the Junior Mints I wrote about earlier.  Those have been tasty, minty cold.  So it's a mood and a passing rut.  Could blame Radio for my sourness and withdrawal, but that wouldn't be fair. It was a good one, the movie.

Hobbling around on a bum (sprained?) knee this weekend hasn't helped any.  Went for two jogs too many last week.  Two jogs total.  Quite a shock to my muscular system. Binge exercise has worked great for years, but no longer. More stretching is overdue. And on the subject of stretching, I have a plan to key together a few notes on Richard Braddock's '75 essay on topic sentences.  It'll be the start of a series of notes on the Braddocks (over the next few weeks)--recapacitating disciplinarily for the fall. More blogging on |t/r|eaching and reading to come.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at April 11, 2004 9:02 PM to Slouching Toward

The Easter angst reminded me of our one great Easter achievement. This was close to 30 years ago. We took the boys to Carmel for the weekend, with a return planned on Easter Sunday. The older two were at the age where they suspected the Easter Bunny was really Mom'n'Dad. They expressed concern on Saturday night about how the Bunny would find them and know where they were. We played it cool.

What we had arranged ahead of time was for my wife's sister to come to our house, hide baskets in the house and eggs in the backyard. When we pulled in the driveway, we let the boys run ahead of us. They quickly found their baskets and some of the eggs. And it deepened their sense of mystery for another year.

Posted by: John at April 13, 2004 12:57 AM

Don't know what got into me over the weekend. Guess it's that parenting demands a persistent effort at variously mystifying the world. We encourage active imagination, set it against "common sense," then moralize hypotheticals about always "telling the truth," about decency and humanity.

I think we've done an okay job stretching the magical potential of the Easter Bunny, playing out the possibilities and philosophizing light--up the existential proofs and back down the skeptical spiral. Just wasn't as good about it this year as I've been in the past. Flop-eared, you might say. The bright side is that I'm frequently reminded how fortunate I am not to be parenting alone. Easter was no worse for my lackluster mood because D. was in line to handle it; Ph.'s basket was full, eggs colored, the whole lot. Now that he's thirteen (and I know his peers have caught on to the scheme), I don't think we'll get much more mileage by asking, "How can we prove the Easter Bunny doesn't exist?"

Posted by: Derek at April 14, 2004 7:31 AM

Yeah, that's about as good as any parent can do. I once observed what I'd call a fatherly flop. I was in the barber shop getting a haircut next to another guy. His 5 year old was sitting in a chair. The "Easter Bunny" came in (this was in a local mall) and offered the kid candy from the basket. He looked conflicted, but his father said, "OK." So he took some candy.

After Bunny left, the father asked his kid who that was: more conflict in the kid's face. Then the idiot father said: "That's right. That was a woman dressed up as a bunny." I felt so bad for this poor little kid.

Posted by: John at April 14, 2004 8:17 PM

Those exposures can be harrowing.  I grew up with an older brother.  He was close to three years ahead of me, so I knew about a lot of things before my time, and in retrospect, it wasn't too bad to have a lead on the ways life could crank you around.  Now, as a parent, I've tried really hard to refrain from feeling concerned about the parenting done by others, and it gets dicey when you're so close to the kids--like the ones who I've coached in basketball for the last four years, since they were fourth-graders.  Lots of good kids and parents, but at least a few uncomfortable situations, things I wished would've been handled differently.  On the selfish side, seeing a dad like the one you described brings a rush of bad feelings, but it also makes us more humane and probably better parents for it.  At least it works that way for me most of the time.

Posted by: Derek at April 16, 2004 8:14 AM