One thing I work hard to do as a parent is to see my kids for individuals they are - not as extensions of me, or of Jon. Not Mini-Me's of ourselves.
That said, Jules and I have some striking similarities: a quick, gummy smile... a voice that carries wide and far... the need to be in motion constantly... a love of music and dancing and reading and eating... unbridled passion.
Of course, I see plenty of Jon in Jules too. For instance, he has an engineer's brain and a budding athlete's muscle-y bod. Also, when faced with a captive audience, he turns the topic to poop. Apparently.
|Like Father, like son (6/18/2012, Stowe Pinnacle)|
Today, was Julian's first day of soccer camp. Barely four, he's one of the youngest "campers" (if not the youngest camper) in the group. But we decided to sign him up, given that he wanted to go and that one of his favorite teachers from school is on the coaching staff.
When I left the field, things appeared to be going well: little soccer players, some in orange vests, were buzzing around the field. When I arrived to pick Jules up at noon, he was pulling off another boy's sock. But he seemed to straighten up and joined in obediently for the final team huddle; still, I worried that we'd rushed things, that we'd sent him too early.
When I saw his coach/teacher a little later, I asked her for the scoop: "Did he do okay today?"
"He was awesome."
"But I saw him pulling another kid's leg..."
"Yeah, but that kid said he needed help getting off his sock."
Then coach/teacher continued: "... but he did say the funniest thing at circle."
In the brief pause, I assumed that what I'd hear next would be something cute, something endearing...
"While everyone was having snack, Jules announced that 'once he did a little squirt in his underpants. Not a poop - just a little squirt.' And then he started cracking up."
Um... "He said what!?" (And who uses the word "squirt"?)
She repeated the story, then added that the whole group of - mostly slightly older - kids thought it was great, hilarious. At that, I felt relief. (Though I'm pretty sure that's not a responsible parent reaction.)
Suddenly, I flashed back to a scene a decade ago...
The setting was an old "manor" in Charlotteville, where my friend Ronda - then a doctoral student studying Shakespeare at UVA - was hosting an end-of-semester (?) or holiday (?) black-tie soiree with several friends. We were having a great time and at some point I left Jon to refresh my martini...
... after refilling my drink, I meandered and mingled before eventually spotting my tux-sporting man across the room. He was looking particularly dashing and he was talking to a handsome couple, also elegantly clad.
"Look at my hot guy over there, making new friends" - I'm sure I thought something of the sort.
Then, I got close enough to hear the conversation.
"Tell me your favorite shit story." This is what I heard. This is what I heard JON say. To the classy couple.
I wanted to die.
And then dignified duo burst into laughter, carrying on until tears streamed down their faces.
Still... not cool.