Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time at the Movies.

We all love a good movie. We often watch them together, either going to a theater or getting a movie off of cable. We also have a lot of DVDs at out house. The boys will watch their favorites periodically. We’ve also taken some away either for disciplinary reasons or because the movie, which we didn’t see in the theater, was more than we thought our boys should be watching.

However, I have a small collection of DVDs, full of my favorites. The biggest problem with my collection?

No one wants to watch them with me.

I have a collection of all of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes’ movies. The man was the best Holmes’ ever. I have a copy of Robin Hood, the Errol Flynn version. (Rathbone plays Sir Guy of Gisbourne in this one. As Rathbone was apparently the worst fencer in Hollywood, Flynn demanded a double on all fight scenes.) I also have my Christmas movies, that I put the kids through each year. Then there’s Excalibur, a semi-violent King Arthur saga that I’m not going let the kids watch until they’re old enough to be on their own.

However, every Easter, I pull out one of my favorites: The Ten Commandments. Starring Charlton Heston, the movie is a mixture of pageantry that never ceases to amaze me (along with Anne Baxter as Nefretiri, who also never ceases to amaze me). There have been days when my kids have asked me Biblical questions and I’ve pulled the movie out if I could to show a certain Biblical event. They haven’t minded it then. However, watching the whole thing from start-to-finish is something no one but me cares to do.

This year I gave up on them. I watched the movie in pieces over the course of the two weeks leading up to Easter. I didn’t ask them to join me. I just accepted that I would have to do it on my own. Apparently, that was fine with them. I’m sure my wife saw the DVD downstairs. She knows I never bothered her with it. And the kids never asked.

Maybe next year, they’ll remember they didn’t watch it and they’ll ask me to trot it out. We could make popcorn and watch it again as a family. Or maybe I’ll have to watch it again on my own.

Oh well. If that’s the only thing we don’t do as a family, I can live with that.

Do you have movies you love that your family doesn’t want to watch with you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Step Away from Childhood

When my younger son was born, I, for reasons which I still don’t fathom, gave him a nickname.

I called him “Squirt.”

It’s not a nickname anyone else uses. He does have a long name can be shortened. My wife and I use the long name. Many of his teachers and coaches call him by the shortened version.

But often, to his face, I say “Squirt.” The term carries a lot of connotations. It means “little one,” but it can also mean “shrimp” or “half-pint,” terms sometimes used to demean a person’s size. Still, he was a little guy and for the longest time he didn’t mind. While tucking him in one evening, I called him by his name.

His response?

“Dad, I’m Squirt.”

Well, my little guy is 9+ now and the day I knew would come has come. He’s asked me to stop using the moniker.

I should have expected it. I was named after my father, who was named after his. For many years, I was called “Little Walter.” (Yes, I understand there’s a difference between a name only one person uses and a name everyone uses.) While I didn’t mind “Little Walter when I was young, I grew to despise it. My feelings about this were the reason I chose not to name either of my sons after me.

At some point, I demanded to be called “Walt.” It took awhile to make the change. People continued to call me Little Walter for years, even after I surpassed my father’s height. There was only one person I didn’t ask to call me Walt. That was my Grandmother. My grandfather went by “Walt.” There was only one “Walt” in my grandmother’s life. I thought that was how it should be. If she wanted to call me Walt, she could.

Last Sunday evening, I tucked my son in as I usually do. And, I called him by name.

He smiled back at me. “Dad, you can call me Squirt. Just don’t do it in public.”

Thankfully, he prefers the Cartoon Network website to my blogsite on the computer.

Goodnight, Squirt.

So, what nicknames did you have for your kids and when did they start requesting a change?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hijinks at the Rink

Among the many hobbies I have or have had at one time in my life, there is one that until recently I have not participated in since our arrival in Georgia over five years ago.

I like to ice skate.

I didn’t grow up ice skating. I started while I lived in Japan in the 90s. (Yes, I know. Some people pick up kendo, flower arranging, or some other local sounding interest. I started ice skating.) I found it relaxing because it took all my concentration to not go splat at first. In other words, I forgot about everything else. I started one summer, finding a rink in downtown Osaka. I used to skate about every other week or so, taking the subway into town. I wore the largest skates the rink had. They weren’t the right size. However, the leather had stretched after continued usage, so I could get my feet in them. When the weather got colder, a winter only rink opened up much closer to my residence. I ended up going every week. On a vacation trip to the U.S., I bought myself a pair of skates. When the winter rink closed and I started taking the train back to Osaka, I discovered the rink downtown had purchased an extra large pair of skates just for me.

I kept up the hobby after I returned to the U.S. for good. My wife and I lived in Portland after we got married. There was a rink near the house and we occasionally took the kids. However, when we moved to Atlanta, I couldn’t find a rink nearby. I knew there had to be one. But, between work and all the kids’ other activities, I never really looked. I stored my skates in the basement, where they sat for several years.

A few weeks ago, my wife found my skates while we were cleaning. She suggested getting rid of them. I wasn’t ready.

Then my wife found a rink over spring break. My younger son, in particular, got excited about the discovery. He loves to watch hockey and has a Thrashers calendar on the wall. So, with a rink discovered, we scheduled a family night out last Friday.

It turned into a boys’ night out as my wife wasn’t up to it. We went to the rink. I laced up my skates and helped my boys get ready as well. Then I got on the ice. At first, the muscles didn’t work like I remembered. I could skate forwards and backwards but felt every turn. I also tried quick direction changes, amazed that I didn’t collide with someone. I skated with the boys and tried to help them. My teenager could get around and didn’t need my help, but he was still timid on the ice. My nine-year-old spent most of the night hugging the side. Eventually, he moved onto the ice in order to play with another kid about his age (as well as get away from the other kid’s little sister).

The two hour night session passed quickly. The rink closed appropriately with Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” and Ray Charles’s “Hit the Road, Jack.” However, my kids declared they wanted to return soon. I promised we would.

What things have you wanted to do for a long time that you haven’t done?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Two First Class Performances

When I was a kid, I was active in Cub Scouts. I earned about every award you could earn. Eventually, the church that supported my Cub Scout troop decided to start a Boy Scout troop. I was one of the first to go into it.

That troop lasted about two years before folding.

And during those two years, I earned a few merit badges. In the progression to Eagle, I earned the rank of Second Class Scout. I had a long way to go. (For those of you unfamiliar with the ranks, it’s Scout-Tenderfoot-Second Class-First Class-Star-Life-Eagle.) When my troop folded, I could have joined one of many other troops available. However, I never felt the desire to join one of them. I was too busy with other things. A couple of years later, I tried volunteering with my own church’s troop. However, I was still too busy. I couldn’t maintain a commitment.

My older son is involved in scouting. He enjoys it a lot. He didn’t start until he was a Webelo, but he has been active. He works on merit badges. I think he’s up to thirteen now.

More importantly, he recently just earned a new rank. He became a First Class Scout. Yep, he surpassed his old man. And I couldn’t be happier.

He’s already strategizing about how to make Eagle. He’s volunteered to work on his first service project. He’s going to camp this summer to earn merit badges that are required for Eagle. He may eventually make it some day.

Scouting isn’t the only place where he’s exceeded what I could do. He also loves baseball and is still playing both in the fall and in the spring. Like scouting, he started playing baseball late, too. However, he’s been at it for a few years now. When he started, he had trouble hitting.

He didn’t give up.

Over time, he got better. We’re now about halfway through the spring. He doesn’t usually hit the ball very hard. Still, he gets on base at least once per game. More impressive is that he rarely strikes out. Instead, he puts the ball in play. He struck out in the most recent game. That was only after three two-strike foul balls.

As for me, I had enough trouble putting wood on the ball. I stunk as a hitter.

I’m proud of my son and what he has accomplished. I hope he knows how much.