Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Awkward Moments ... are okay
After Tae Kwan Do class today - a sport in which both J (age 7) and T (age 6) have achieved their "Camo belt" status (which bugs me - I am a military history aficionado, and I'm making an educated guess that "camo" was not one of the color choices made by the originators of Tae Kwan Do). T was snapping his side kicks and giggling during stretching as always, but J was clearly dragging tail throughout the session. Physical fatigue did not seem to be an issue - his heart just wasn't in it today. S'ok - kids are allowed to "check out" sometimes in This Dad's Opinion. I'm not raising a Commando force, just a few kids.
Moving to the point - after class I took the boys to Baskin Robbins. Baskin Robbins throws J a little off his game since they advertise 31 flavors but sell 42 flavors. I have to agree with J that the universe is slightly askance due to this unsettling factoid (a factoid that is rediscovered immediately upon every visit as J re-counts the flavor labels to make sure they still offer the ridiculous sum of 42 flavors). But this time, on today's visit, there was no re-count. J was thrown a curve-ball immediately upon entering the door. You see, someone said, "Hi, J".
J froze in place, clearly torn between counting the flavors and becoming invisible. He grabbed me around the thighs with both arms, looked up with an obvious and unabated look of bewilderment in his big eyes, and whisper-shouted, "I don't know who that is."
(Aside: I must define the whisper-shout. This is J's verbal channel that he deploys when he is trying to speak 'under his breath'. The thing is, J doesn't modulate that very well and ends up over-compensating his voice volume to make up for the whisper-effect that prevents a voice from carrying distance. So he winds up with a very loud, throaty whisper-shout that he honestly believes is only heard by the person he is oriented towards at that exact moment.)
The boy who accosted J (well, actually he only said 'hi') was sitting with, presumably, his Dad and older brother. The boy was probably 9 or 10, the brother probably 18. All in all, and leaving out some of the "small talk" that surrounded this fragmented interaction, they were a perfectly friendly bunch.
I peeled J off my leg and encouraged him to pick a flavor. He picked chocolate (no surprise there - read this post I wrote back in 2007 to see the consistency of J's taste for chocolate) and went to his favorite position of flipping through the B-R catalog to hone in on his favorite characters represented in the fashion-forward genre of frozen ice cream cakes. At one point he moved closer to the table with the boy who had said 'hi', and the same boy leaned over and said, 'J - you remember me! From Vacation Bible School!" (VBS was last week - not a long time ago) J grabbed my hand and whisper-shouted to me "I think I can't remember him. I think he has different clothes!" Once I had paid up, I walked over to him and crouched down to have a "man-to-man" talk.
I said, "J - on the way out of here, I want you to walk up to the boy who said 'Hi'. I think you should tell him you are sorry you don't remember him, and thank him for saying hello. The reason I think you should do this is because it is the polite thing to do. Do you agree?"
"Yes, Dad, I will."
So we walked over to the door and the boy. Jason grabbed on to me tight and whisper-shouted (the boy could definitely hear, as could everyone else around) "I'm scared!" I told him he would do fine, and we could just leave if he wanted to but that he should try to be polite. "But I'm nervous!"
We stopped in front of the boy. J looked at his feet and whispered - not whisper-shouted, whispered - "I'msorryIdidn'trememberyouthankyouforsayinghello" and we left. The boy was responding, but we left in a hurry. As we crossed the parking lot, I asked J if he felt like what he did was the right thing. "Yes". I asked if he felt better to have done it, even though it was hard to do. "Please don't ask me about that right now!" was his reply. Okay.