In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
Last week was a three-hanky special.
The Girl had two graduations: one from her gymnastics class, and one from her preschool. And I had my first Father's Day since Dad died.
The gymnastics class was easy. They had a little performance for the parents, complete with loud music and bright outfits. (TG rocked the blue tutu.) Parents were everywhere, wielding all manner of camera and video technology. (I brought the 'flip video' thing, which is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. I'm just old enough to think of James Bond when I use it.) TG did some balance-beam walking and a few tuck-and-rolls. Actual exchange:
The Wife: Why do they call it a tuck and roll? Why not just call it a somersault?
TG (slowly): Because first you tuck, and then you woll.
So that's that.
The preschool graduation was harder on the parents. They did a little slideshow of highlights from the year, complete with a soundtrack of sad ballads; by the end, the parents were reduced to quivering piles of jello. (The highlight for us was a picture from the day The Boy came in to read the class a story. He must have been memorable, because as soon as that picture came up, several other kids yelled “that's TB!”) The kids also did a few songs and skits, with construction-paper props and lots of percussion instruments.
Even at this age, you can see distinct personalities in each kid. One kid was the class ham. Another was utterly terrified of going up there. A few of the girls are already a little princess-y, and some of the boys were a little more rough-and-tumble than others. TG did her parents proud, holding her ground and not getting distracted. The teachers have commented before that she's the moral compass of the class, which I don't mind admitting pleases me endlessly.
The contrast between the parents and the kids was striking. For the kids, it was just another day, albeit with parents there. For the parents, it was tears and hugs and frantic exchanges of phone numbers. TG was more focused on the cake than on anything else. Bless her, she has no idea why we had such a hard time.
Father's Day was mostly lovely, with some sadness around the edges. The kids made crafts, which they presented while beaming with well-earned pride. TW took us out to brunch, and I got a couple of books I'd been looking forward to reading.
Over the last week or so, leading up to Father's Day, I couldn't help but think about Dad. It wouldn't be in long, focused ruminations, just the occasional thought that would give me pause.
The one that really threw me was when I realized that with both grandfathers and now Dad gone, I'm the oldest male in the family. I didn't expect that to happen just yet. Growing up, I had Dad, but I also had my Grandpa (on Mom's side) as a sort of role model. Now, it's just me. TB does have his Grandpa on TW's side, which helps tremendously, but this was the first Father's Day I didn't have to shop for.
That's not a crisis, it's not unique, it's not anything that plenty of others haven't gone through. I get that. It's just a little tough to reach the end of Father's Day and to realize, for the first time, that there isn't a phone call still to make.
Sorry to get maudlin. I'll get back to analytical/ironic tomorrow. I just couldn't do it today.
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