To the Mother of Our Son, Lior,
Lior came home from school with running shoes disguised as pools of water and told us that he'd been "dissed." It seems that Michael invited everyone to his pajama party and told Lior that his parents made him invite Lior too, even though he didn't want to.
Lior was standing in the middle of the kitchen when he told us the story, his dark curls dripping with rain and showing us the face of someone who refuses to let himself cry, no matter what.
We told him it's all nonsense and not worth it, and reminded him that in any case he doesn't like to sleep away from home. We must have been pretty persuasive because 10 minutes later he was involved with his play station and yelling at the animated Digimon on the screen to "surrender already stupid, give up, for I am the world champion."
Later there were screams of joy and triumph. I guess "stupid" caved in.
Champion of the world
Meanwhile Stupido Senior sat in the living room for another five minutes seriously considering whether or not to go over to Michael's house and turn him into flocked wallpaper. But I got a call from the office so I had to go.
When I got back that evening, I found him watching TV, eating soup nuts from the jar. I asked how he was and he said "okay", which is the most dialogue you'll get from a pre-teen who has no interest in speaking to people who are Digimon-challenged. I asked again if he was sure that he's okay and he threw me a look that said "Sure, I'm the world champ."
Since I've never been a world champ at anything, I took the answer at face value. Later that night, after I had finished writing, I took my usual night tour to look in on my favorite wonder of nature: The way in which children curl up when they sleep.
Just an hour before, he and his sister were rational beings who wanted pancakes, but the moment the eyes close they turn into the babies I once brought home from hospital in a cradle. Then I went into the living room to make my last cup of coffee for the day and there I found a serious case of Kleenex addiction on the couch.
My darling, the truth is that I should have known this would happen. As Lior's mother you take his life much more seriously than he does. It's the working mother's syndrome: Because she is away from home half a day, she believes she is responsible for all the bad things that happen in her absence.
From her viewpoint, if she had been sitting at the window staring out at the school, Lior would not have gotten soaked in the rain, or passed over, or ever had a fight with Michael.
Whenever they are together she interrogates him long and hard about every minute he spent without her. Afterwards this apparition, like the ghost of Hamlet's father and just as real, appears before me. "They made him goalkeeper again." she reports from under the clouds of gloom, "He never gets to be a striker and you have no idea how much he wants it."
I do know, because for 12 years of school I was never picked to be a striker. Not once. I was always the last kid chosen and some smart guy always yelled, "Don't feel bad. You can always be the ball," and break up laughing.
By the way I am not mad at that guy. I am sure that just like me also forgot it along the way, now that he has an ugly wife and obnoxious children. And relative to what I was and who I was at his age, Lior is more popular than Brad Pitt.
It's not much help to him, but does help me as his dad.
For me it's different. Not better or worse exactly, just different. Have you noticed that at class events it's the dads who are taking videos? Did you ever ask yourself why? We know that we'll never invite our friends over on a Friday night to watch "Chanukah 2001, Lior, First Candle."
The only advantage to recording the event is that it gives us dads something to do. Otherwise we'd be sitting around like bumps on a log trying to figure out what's the big deal here. (Or worse, feigning enthusiasm for the benefit of the wives.)
Do you remember how nervous you were for him when he had to sing a solo? Maybe it's time to confess that I didn't care at all. Let him sing off key, forget the words – heck, let him turn somersaults on stage. It's his solo not mine.
He's going to be a wonderful person, Lior. You can see it in him already. He's warm and smart and very original, and that's enough for me.
I know I could have been a better parent but isn't that true for everyone? The best moments are those that we do something together that is interesting for me too. I know that you are capable of sitting with him for hours putting stickers on his notebooks but I am bored by my third one. He and I had the most fun when I put him on my lap and he drove the car around the parking lot three times.
Oops! I promised I wouldn't tell you
We are different my darling. Him and me. Sometimes we fight with Michael, sometimes Michael comes over with a soccer ball and we kick it around (It is true that today I would like to combine the two and kick Michael, but I'm sure this feeling will pass.)
We don't want to talk about it too much, don't want peoples' pity and we don't want anyone to bother us in the middle of a game of Digimon. Being a son is the only thing in which I have more experience than you, so you will have to trust me that he is not repressing his trauma. He has simply moved on, like his father.
Believe both of us that you can leave the Kleenex and come to bed. As Alice said, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives.