Slow Down and Bond

I lost my son. I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean I literally lost my son.   He was in one place at one moment and was not there a few moments later. This was very upsetting in a multitude of ways.

On Friday afternoon, I went to my nearly 8 year old son’s school to pick him up.  He sees this as a treat – apparently, he is not a big fan of the school bus.  In fact when he gets off the bus, he typically runs to the house as if staying on the bus might mean more homework. Anyway, I figured since I had the day off, I would pick him up which would give us an opportunity to bond. At least, that is what I imagined.  We would run errands and talk along the way. Efficient and useful bonding time.

When pick-up time rolled around, I was in a rush. Too much to do and too little time – the usual story.  So, rather than casually going about the errands, we instead would be rushing. Still, I was optimistic for our chances to bond. The first two errands went well – we were in and out of the bank and dry cleaners quickly and painlessly.  No lines – my version of heaven.  We actually slapped hands after each errand – we were sharing the joy of efficiency. My son was truly getting something from our time together.

Our last errand entailed dropping movies off at the library.  Now, the tricky part of this errand would be getting back home. You see there is a left hand turn you have to make to head back in the direction of our house which requires much patience and ultimately a daring do that would make James Bond hesitate.   Much time would have been needed between parking the car and having to make the turn. So, I decided to send my son to drop the movies into the slot. Before sending him off to do the errand on his own, I asked him multiple times if he knew where the slot was. He kept saying yes in that way that children can which makes you feel like you are asking a ludicrous question.  I then told him, “Meet me here. I’ll be here. I just have to turn the car around. Do you understand? Right here.  Just come back here.” More bored shakes of the head. The whole errand should have taken less than a minute.  When 3 minutes slowly ticked by … where is he, what the hell is up with him, oh come on, where did he go, he said he knew where to go … I parked the car while trying not to panic. I ran into the library and was told no one saw anyone fitting his description. I was in front of the library with nearly 10 minutes past since I dropped him off.  I thought of that movie Ransom, I thought about going to the police station which was across the street, and I thought about calling my wife.  I was freaking out and turning my head around furiously like a merry-go-round when a man poked his head out of a car and said, “Are you looking for a little boy? He’s up the block.” I ran while alternating my mutterings between: I am going to kill him, thank G-d, and what was I thinking?  After finally catching up to my son (I ran up two other blocks before finding the one the man was referring to), I grabbed his hand and tried to remain patient. I wanted to give him a lecture, but settled for I was really nervous, why didn’t you come back to where we talked about, and you have to listen. Okay, so I gave a brief lecture. Who wouldn’t?

As we rode home together and my heart beat slowed to its regular pace, I peeked at my son in the rearview mirror.  I came to two understandings.  Firstly, I was not going to tell my wife about this. The second understanding was that though he is big brother it does not mean he is necessarily responsible.  Rushing and bonding don’t go together.

Bullies Have to be Dealt With

I heard today that the price of gas somewhere in Florida is $6 a gallon.  At the gas station closest to where I live, the price is near $3.50.  There are many reasons why the price of gas has gone up lately.  Some of these reasons I understand while other reasons are not so clear to me. One reason in particular is crystal clear. A large percentage of the oil that the world depends upon is exported from the Middle East. You add that to the fact that there is instability in that part of the world, and you have one of the major factors in the crazy high gas prices.

It seems as if talk of Iran, and its strivings for nuclear weapons (yes, I know they are saying they intend it for power only, but does anyone really believe that) is in the news constantly these days. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denies the Holocaust, and repeatedly says Israel should be wiped off the map.  Yet, he is allegedly the more rational when compared to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who holds more of the power.  It has been rumored that at one point the Supreme Leader overruled Ahmadinejad when he was ready to compromise in a nuclear dispute.  So you have two lunatics who can’t even agree with each other about how to run a country. That country has long been known to be a sponsor of terrorist organizations, has committed acts of terrorism, and has regularly burned American flags while cursing the country. Now, according to some reports, that country, Iran, is on the verge of creating a nuclear bomb.

The leaders of our country, however, tell us in so many words, not to worry. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “We are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor.”  I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination – just a guy who reads the newspaper, but I have to say, ‘are you kidding me?’  These two people mentioned above are rational?  Is he saying we should just talk to them as President Obama said we should do when he came to office which failed miserably? Some people can’t be spoken to. It reminds me of a Brady Bunch episode.  Peter gets into a fight trying to defend his little sister, Cindy, from a bully.  His parents, Mike and Carol tell him to go back to the bully and talk with him – he will listen to sense, they believe.  When this doesn’t work, Mike tries talking to the bully’s father. When that doesn’t work, Carol tries talking to the mother of the bully certain that women can talk things out reasonably.  This fails as well.  In the end, they give Peter boxing lessons and he ultimately ends up knocking the teeth loose of the bully who clearly will not be bothering Cindy anymore.

Sometimes countries, like bullies, are not reasonable. We expect people to be rational if we are. That expectation is naïve and can lead to greater damage in the long run.  I don’t know what the answer is in dealing with Iran, but I do know that a military strike needs to be a real consideration.  Six dollars for a gallon of gas stinks. A bully with a deadly weapon capable of causing massive amounts of casualties stinks a whole lot more

Productive Gene

I have a to-do list (actually, it’s in my mind – can’t write make a to-do list on a to-do list) that is expansive. You know how when you know time off is coming and you start putting things off till you reach the precious space where miraculously you will complete everything? I’ll open up that piece of mail tomorrow, I can read that article next week, I’ll respond to that email in a couple of days. Delay, put off, file – we all do this –right?

That’s where the presidents come in. Huh? You see I have this week off as for New York City Schools it is not Presidents’ Day but Presidents’ Week.  I think celebrating the 44 men who have held this most powerful position really does require a week. Actually, I heard that as part of the City’s fiscal crisis in the 1970’s, they began shutting schools Presidents’ Week (I believe it had something to do with the cost of heating the schools as well – ironic then that the forecast calls for temperatures to hit the mid 50’s this week).

So, now, ironically, the pressure is on: work on those delayed projects, spend time with family/friends, clean up, and catch up on movies.  Oh yeah, I also have to relax and let go of the pent up stress. I think I might need another week. Yes, I know that is not coming, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Of course, when I get to next Sunday night, there will still be some items not checked off. I used to feel a sense of frustration and disappointment when items were left unchecked on my list. Why was I unproductive? Why don’t I manage my time better?  For years, I used to think it wasn’t so much that I overbooked or my expectations were too grand but that I simply did not manage my time well.  I felt as if something was wrong with me. I think the productive gene runs in my family. I often hear my mom complain about herself saying she moves too slowly (now, granted, she is 70 plus years old and doesn’t move like she once did, but still does a great deal).  Now, in terms of long term health, the productive gene is one that you should wish for.  

So, the week off will end. I will get a lot done. I will wish I got a lot more done.  That’s the nature of the beast. I’ll wonder aloud to my wife – if she hasn’t started snoring yet – if I was productive enough – ponder the plusses and minuses.  There’s always next week.

Oscar Says No

Tree of Life – eitz chaim as my people call it. In this case, however, I am talking about the movie. It is nominated for an Oscar for best picture.  As a movie lover who does not find time to get to the movies very often, I rely on Netflix. Anyway, I try to watch those movies up for awards.  It makes the show more interesting, and I figure if it is up for an award, the movie must be half decent.

Now, back to the Tree of Life – uggh. I don’t get it. My wife actually clapped when it was finally over. Now normally when people clap, it is to show enjoyment, appreciation, and approval. Well, let’s just say that was not the case here. Actually, the clapping was to show enjoyment – that the movie was over!  Maybe, it was too deep, maybe I did not pay attention enough, maybe I was not prepared to think as much as the movie demanded. Now, the story itself – what I got out of it at least – was somewhat interesting. However, the interludes or the artsy stuff to put it formally were odd, annoying, and unnecessary. Even more so, these interludes added nothing to the movie.

Well, you cross Tree of Life off my to see list. Next up is The Help. My vote for best picture is still available.