Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Bearish Birthday, and Nine Years of Parenthood

The Bear turned nine today. We celebrated by going to a concert where his choir performed. (Audio is here for anyone who's curious; if you're plugged into a real speaker you can actually hear some decent music behind the audience's rustling and coughing.)

Afterward, we got together with some dear friends and ate this cake:

Apart from the obvious model, the cake was patterned after some cookies at a post-election party that got devoured before the Bear had a chance to try them. This was my attempt to make amends for that little disappointment. (It was also a design that didn't require any cutting, and since I'm still semi-debilitated, I wanted to keep things simple.)

Contrary to appearances, I'm totally not trying to indoctrinate my kids. I do think that being a parent means you get to try to pass on your values. Very, very high in my firmament of values - ranking just behind kindness and empathy - is critical, independent thinking.

So I've told the Bear he may well vote contrary to me someday. (Secretly I tend to think he probably won't; if I teach him to ask tough questions, he's virtually immunized against voting for the next G.W. Bush.) Way back during the primaries, I asked him why he thought Obama would be a good president. Ending the war in Iraq topped his list. Education was way up there, too.

The Tiger, for his part, just likes to jump up and down and say "Obama winnded! Obama winnded!" He still has a ways to go with both his political consciousness and his past-tense verbs.


Earlier today, I mentioned to the Tiger's father that we've now been parents for nine years. His response? "Ha ha ha ha ha!" That captured my incredulity, too.

I laugh at all the moments of absurdity. Just yesterday, the Tiger turned up with ball-point ink crisscrossing his face, resembling a psycho Spiderman. He steadfastly denied applying any ink to himself.

I marvel at how the time could go so slowly and so swiftly all at once. Those near-sleepless nights and endless tantrums seemed to expand into eternity. And yet, looking back, I wonder what happened to the mini-Bear who'd throw his beloved stuffed animal, Mama Bear, out of his crib, and then bellow with fury that she was no longer snuggled up against him. Wasn't that just a few weeks ago?

I still wonder why I thought I was qualified for this job. No one really is, are they? It's all on-the-job learning, and if you screw up, there's a whole world hanging in the balance. Hmmm ... it's not so unlike the presidency, in miniature, when you think about it.

The Bear has extremely keen hearing unless he's being asked to clean his room. Predictably, he overheard my comment about nine years of parenthood. His response: "What does that have to do with anything?"

What, indeed, my darling little Bear? Nothing, of course, from the center of a world in which I've always been his mama, in which I'm as taken for granted as oxygen and his still-beloved Mama Bear.

And yet everything - more than he can possibly know unless he too someday becomes a parent.


sugar mag said...

Happy birthday to the Bear! Wow, 9 years of parenting. I so know what you mean, I often feel like I'm making it up as I go along. Your cake is cute and if your kids are excited about Obama winning, there is nothing wrong with that design. Of course they may disagree with you as the grow up, as it should be. It wouldn't surprise me if as teenagers they become quite conservative and then come full circle as adults with views that reflect yours. That seems to be the way of things. Or not, who knows :). It sometimes surprises me how similar my own views are to my parents'.

You asked me a question and I sent you an email. Did you get it?

Sungold said...

Hi Sugar Mag! Yes, I got your email, and it deserves a more detailed response than I've had the time or peace to compose. I'm horribly behind on grading and we had to push the Bear's kid b-day party back a week because so many other things were happening - from the election to the school carnival to yesterday's concert.

My own political views drifted pretty far left of my parents. Now my mom is drifting toward me! Funny how people can keep evolving even after age 70.

We *are* making it up as we along, aren't we? The good news, I guess, is that if our kids ever complain to us later in life about our parenting, that's not likely to be one of their major beefs. :-)

Sugarmag said...

Hi again Sungold, don't worry about responding to what I wrote, it's no big deal I just wanted to make sure you got it. I totally understand being busy, it's casual, no worries! I hope you are able to fit time for sleep in there!

Habladora said...

Lovely post, and happy birthday to the Bear. As for me, I've always been a bit to the left of my parents. Like yours, they've followed me into liberal territory.

Sungold said...

Sugar Mag - I'll just say for now that I was incredibly psyched for you!

Sungold said...

Thanks, Habladora. His birthday continues, since there's still leftover cake, he's enjoying a handful of new toys - and on the weekend he'll have a kid party at our house. Nine is a pretty great age so far - for all of us!

As for my parents: Boy, I wish I could figure out how to coax my dad leftward. He watches Fox News and that's very hard to counteract. As of a few months ago he was rather warm toward Obama (though still planning to vote for McCain). That was a real aberration for a guy who still thinks Ronald Reagan was practically the Second Coming.