My dad, or “Papa” to my kids, has a new name around here.
I’ll get to that in a second.
Papa will be the first to tell you that little kids aren’t really his thing.
Give him a surly adolescent any day of the week over a pre-verbal baby.
What’s particularly touching to me is the way my dad has taken on my oldest son, Ian.
Ian’s not usually my easiest kid.
He’s a good kid. He’s a thoughtful kid. He’s a sweet kid.
Most of the time.
He’s just not easy.
Ian’s special needs include, but are not limited to:
- expressive language disorder
- receptive language disorder
- insisting that tied shoelaces are overrated
- giving, as Greg says, “his very best 70%”
- yelling “my mom sucks!” (Where’s that expressive language disorder when I need it??)
Yeah, “normal” kids have some of these special needs, too. I still say my list counts.
Anyway, Ian’s not the easiest kid. Did I mention that already?
So when people say, “Hey, I’d like to spend some time with Ian,”
I say, “What? Oh. I mean. Yes! Of course you do! Is now good?”
And then they say, “How about next week sometime?”
And I feel like a 4-year-old who doesn’t have a good grasp of time and has to count down 100 sleeps until Christmas. It’s better to just not tell me it’s coming. Honestly.
Several months ago, my parents had Ian over to watch Karate Kid. He was thrilled. I was thrilled. Win/win.
Then Ian wanted to learn martial arts.
Well, ya tell a kid you want him to pick a sport. And then he does. So you pretty much have to let him do it.
Enter my father, who has taken on Ian and martial arts.
Papa takes Ian to class twice a week, and he even comes over to help Ian train for his kata.
A kata is a choreographed exercise of Karate techniques. Remember “wax on, wax off?” Yes. Exactly.
The part of Karate that Ian didn’t take into full consideration is that it’s a lot of hard work.
And the part of “Papa’s Help” that Ian didn’t understand is that Papa is a former Marine. With an excellent work ethic. And a high demand for proper performance.
Fast forward four months… and whenever Ian sees his Papa coming, he starts yelling, “Papaono! Papaono!” Which means, “Papa’s coming. Oh, no!”
Man, if only I’d thought of that when I was an adolescent! I’ll tell you what; my child is speakin’ my teenage language. Couldn’t’ve said it better myself. Papa Ono, indeed.
It’s hilarious. Especially when I insist to my “Papaono!” shrieking child that we actually let Papa through the door, and then Ian looks like this:
And instructional time with Papa Ono looks like this:
Hey, Ian. Growing up with Papa Ono made me have crazy eyes, too. Especially when he enunciated at me like that, in his Marine drill sergeant way. You’ll get through it. I’m almost positive.
Here’s Ian, resigned to “quality instructional time” with Papa Ono:
I should rent Ian out to our local college’s psych classes. They can study his body language. Gee, I wonder what he’s trying to communicate?
And finally practicing his kata:
You know what I like best about Papa’s new name?
I like that it means Greg and I aren’t alone.
We’re not the only ones who are giving our very best (probably more than 90%!) to our kids and being occasionally, utterly resented for it.
Papa Ono makes me smile. A lot.
Papa Ono, my hat is off to you. This fist-pump’s for you.
And, just in case we think it’s all for naught or start feeling too sorry for Mr. Ian, this is my happy kid… happy because he did remember that dang kata after all the drilling, and he did get his first stripe on his belt:
Thanks, Papa Ono!
Don’t tell teenage me, ’cause she’ll never believe it, but you’re a rock star.