Friday, October 12, 2012

Redemption Fall (or Man Dates)

The other day the boys got an invitation to a birthday party:

"Zake \ Nike"  Those names are way better than the ones we gave them.  How cool is that?

(I did not prepare a proper segue...)

I've never heard the word for what I have.  It's the feeling that Fall, the season, is truly the time of renewal.  Forget all that Easter iconography and the heart-breaking Passion.  Forget Christmas, a time of birth and gifts.  Forget New Year's Eve promises and hopes.  Forget Birthdays. 

Nope, Fall does it for me.  I'm a fallcentricist.  Everything is new in the Fall; new books, new clothes, new ideas, new dreams, new heartbreak and new friends.

Friendship is a very difficult subject for me.  I can't really say why.  I guess because I never have been very good at it.  Now, don't go thinking I don't have friends, I do, it's just that they are my old friends, in every way, and they are scattered and they are living lives different than mine.  I keep up with them, sort of... FB counts doesn't it?

Yeah, I don't hang out with friends very often.  I don't know why women are so damned good at it.  And, why men, well, aren't.  The truth is, I really don't mind.  I have known friendship, I have honored friendship, I have respected friendship.  Perhaps that's why I have trouble making friends, I don't think it's a casual thing; I think it is a pretty serious thing.

So, I'm good, right?

Here's where things get sort of tricky.  I am very reluctant to say this... I am not modeling any healthy, strong friendships to my sons.  That is probably not good.  Sure friends come over now and again, but not regularly.  I have always thought an important component to friendship was time in, you know, shared time spent together.

What guys need is (I generalize and am probably adding to sexism that surrounds us) a pick-up truck to lean on, a sports team to focus on, a couple of guitars to play on, a time to get to know one another in the silences between the words.  It's tough to explain.  Basically, and I know this sounds like psychobabble, men need to "hangout" with each other.  We need to stand around fires and grunt, eat meat in silent appreciation; we need time to size each other up, feel what another man is worth, whether he merits our friendship.

So, basically, I am failing the boys here on two fronts.  I am not modeling a good friendship nor am I affording them the opportunity to form their own.  I sometimes think that with the teams and the school and the church and the play-dates, we are doing enough towards our kids socialization, and we are.  I just wish I could figure a way for them to just hangout with their friends; not for an hour soccer practice, or a two hour frenzy of a playdate, or a half-hour at recess or in the lunch-room.  No, I wish for them an all-day baseball game in the heat of an Ohio August, an afternoon on sleds with freezing feet in an air of danger and fear, a crisp Autumn morning picking apples and...

Yeah, sorry... not gonna happen, is it?

But, I can find more ways for them to spend time with the friends they are making these days, try a little harder to reach out to the other kids parents, try to stop structuring everything for them.

There ya go, problem solved.

Waddya mean, what am I gonna do about that showing them friendship part, remember, blah, blah, blabbity-blah?

Oh, that.  Right.  Well.

I have to go on man-dates.  I have to ask a guy out, basically.  I am not comfortable with that.  I don't even know how to do it.  I rarely asked a girl out if I didn't absolutely know she would go out with me.  I'm good at acquaintances, and I often think I'd like to spend more time with some of mine.  But... a man-date.

It is very strange the things you begin to consider when you have kids, like insurance and vaccinations, which you'd never considered before.  Your values change, your interests change, your heart changes; you see that you are now the big-guy, the mentor, the teacher, the shower-of-stuff... the Dad.

So, who do you think I should ask out?  The interesting younger guitar player I met, the coach I like, that stiff, nervous guy with steel-blue eyes and the countenance of a saint, or the fellow SAHD who seems sad?  Oh, bother.

I have to try, and it is the season of new beginnings, isn't it?

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